Human Rights Abuses: Presidential Panel Invites Femi Falana, Boko Haram lawyers

Femi Falana SAN

The Presidential Panel investigating alleged human rights abuses by the Armed Forces has called on Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and all lawyers representing suspected Boko Haram members detained in the South West to come forward to present their case before the panel.

Chairman of the eight-man panel, Justice Biobel Goodwill, of the Court of Appeal, made the call, on Tuesday, on the second day of the panel’s sitting at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos.

“Mr Femi Falana and other counsel should come forward with their allegations of human rights abuses.

“It is imperative that people in Southwest with allegations against the armed forces should appear before the panel,” Goodwill said.

The judge also invited interested parties to join members of the panel to a one-day fact finding mission on Oct. 25 to the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos, where alleged Boko-Haram suspects are incarcerated.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had, on August 11 inaugurated presidential investigation panels to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement in conflict and insurgency cases.

The panels are to sit in the six geopolitical zones and the Federal Capital Territory from September 11 to November 3.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the Nigerian Army, through their counsel, Mr. Bola Oyebanji, apologised to the family of Mr. Abubakar Alhaji, a commercial motorcyclist who was allegedly beaten to death by Sgt. Taiwo Owoeye, a soldier in Lagos.

“The Nigerian Army has detained Sgt. Owoeye for murder, we find the matter reprehensible and condemnable.

“However, this is a single act which showed that the sergeant was on his own.

“We apologise and sympathise with the family of the deceased,” Oyebanji said.

Justice Goodwill also , giving his condolences, told brother of the deceased “apologies to you and your family for the death of your brother”.

Goodwill after tendering the apology, told Mr Lucas Koyejo, a counsel from the National Human Rights Commission to follow up with the military trial of Owoeye to ensure that justice is done and to liaise with the victim’s family.

Earlier, Alhaji’s brother Mr Salihu Mojahid, in his testimony before the panel, shed light on the series of events leading to his brother’s death.

Mojahid said: “On Feb. 27, my brother called Abubakar Alhaji, a commercial motorcyclist, took a passenger to Maroko Roundabout beside Myhoung Barracks, Yaba, Lagos.

“He parked at the back of a vehicle and unknown to him someone was in the vehicle, the person in the vehicle reversed and bystanders shouted that a commercial motorcyclist is behind him.

“My brother knocked on the car to alert the owner that he parked behind him, the owner of the car came out and he was Sgt. Taiwo Owoeye.

“Owoeye who was in full military uniform, slapped my brother twice and after he fell down, and he started kicking my brother several times in his stomach while he was on the ground.

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