A human rights group based in Onitsha, International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (INTERSOCIETY), on Wednesday listed 40 alleged ‘sins and human rights violations’ of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai.
It also expressed dismay over the appointment of the new COAS whom they accused of killing 216 Igbos when he was the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army between 2015 and 2016.
The group in a report mailed to our correspondent electronically and titled “40 Mortal Sins & Human Rights Atrocities Of Buratai’s Era As Nigerian Army Chief”, said they were half happy and half sad over their removal as Nigeria’s longest serving Service Chiefs since May 1999.
The report dated, January 27, 2021, and signed by Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Democracy & Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche; Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Obianuju Joy Igboeli and Head, Field Data Collection & Documentation Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku,
said they were half happy that after over four years of sustained advocacy campaigns, they were sacked.
The group said though they were sacked, “It is reminded that Lt Gen Buratai reached his retirement in Jan 2016 when he clocked 35 years in military service, but instead of quitting, conspired with other Service Chiefs and “the Presidency” to smuggle “Section 11.09” into the “Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces (2017) Revised”, otherwise called “H-TACOS (2017)”.
“The smuggled ‘Section 11.09” provides as follows: “the forgoing notwithstanding, the President, C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a Chief of Defense Staff/ Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service”.
It added, “the ‘H-TACOS” is a non legislative instrument arranged whimsically and capriciously by ‘the C-in-C and his Service Chiefs’ and was last reviewed outside public inputs in 2017 after that of 2012.”
Intersociety, however, expressed sadness of the newly appointed Army Chief, Major Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, saying that his appointment appears to have been chosen on the basis of ‘ethno-religious sentiments’, rather than competence, unimpeachable track records and ability in modern military soldiering and technology.
They noted that outside being the same Army officer removed from the theatre of Boko Haram counterinsurgency operations “for seeming crass incompetence in 2017, he was also the same officer that ignited and supervised the systematic and ceaseless massacre of defenseless Igbo citizens when he held sway between 2015 and 2016 as the General Officer Commanding the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu.”
According to the report, “the hateful and unlawful killings, supervised by the new Army Chief, included: six (6) deaths in the 30th of August 2015 protests at Awka and Onitsha, twenty-five (25) deaths in the 2nd and 17th December 2015 protest and jubilation killings at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and environs, fifteen (15) deaths in the 18th and 29th January 2016 killings in Aba, thirty (30) deaths in the 9th February 2016 massacre at Aba National High School, one hundred and ten (110) deaths in the 29th and 30th May 2016 Biafra Heroes Day massacre at Nkpor, Ogidi and Onitsha and thirty (30) deaths in the Asaba spill over massacre of 30th May 2016; totalling 216 deaths.”
The group listed the ’40 mortal sins & human rights atrocities of Buratai’s era’ as follows:
“The Nigerian Army under Buratai as its Chief of Staff witnessed the highest level of bastardization, polarization and demoralization, particularly on ethno-religious grounds.
“Army under him was reduced to ‘jihadist and ethnic militias’, to the extent that its symbol was religiously inscribed and radicalized
“Secularity and plural soldiering were a history in the Nigerian Army under Buratai.
“Desertions and sacks particularly on ethno-religious grounds characterized the Nigerian Army under Buratai
“Several cases of ‘in-service’ enemy killings and conspiracies particularly perpetrated on ethno-religious grounds.
“Reducing Nigerian Army to ‘an Army for Fulani-Hausa Muslims alone’, with others as makeshift and teamakers.” It cited recent promotions and postings; “out of 47 Major Generals, North took 32 including 27 Muslims and South took only 15 including only 3 for the Southeast; in the case of 163 Brig Generals posted, North took 110 including 84 Muslims and South took 53 including only 10 for the Southeast.”
“Accusations of ‘conflict profiteering’ rather than professional conflict management and counterinsurgency operations were rife under Buratai as Nigerian Army Chief.
“Nigerian Army under Buratai was so hateful and partisan that it was culturally named by other Nigerians particularly non Muslims of Nothern and Southern extractions as “Boko Haram” and “Fulani Herdsmen” Army
“Nigerian Army under Buratai was reduced to “Fulani and Muslim citizens’ Mai-Guards”.
“Apart from chronic citizens’ defense, protection and safety disproportionality between Muslims and Christians recorded under Buratai’s Nigerian Army, the Army was more interested in protecting Fulani Herdsmen and Northern Muslims across the country than extending same to all citizens.
“Buratai as Nigerian Army Chief played a critical role in the violent settlement of local and ‘imported’ Fulani Herdsmen/Shuwa Arabs in the bushes, forests and farmlands located in the Southeast, Southwest, South-south, North-central and Christian parts of the Northwest and Northeast.
“Nigerian Army under Buratai also arrogated to itself the duties of Police CID, prosecutors and trial courts or judges, to the extent it abducted defenseless citizens at will, tortured them at will, disappeared them at will, setenced them to death at will, executed them at will and made away with their corpses at will.
“Killings of Shiite, #EndSARS protesters, Igbo youths,”among others.