A pro-Democracy Non-governmental organisation – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has demanded a transparent investigation of the widespread allegations of secret burial by military authority of over 105 soldiers reportedly killed last week during an ambush by the armed Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State, North East of Nigeria.
The RIGHTS group said the United Nations Organisation (UNO); African Union (AU); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); credible International and national Non-governmental groups including Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC) and respected Nigerian based Non-Governmental bodies should be constituted into a panel of investigators which must include representatives of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society and Faith based organisations including representatives of the Nigerian Military to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the claims and counter claims regarding the fate of some 105 soldiers that went missing and were reported widely to have been buried after their decomposed remains were found allegedly by Nigerian military hierarchy.
HURIWA said the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the failure of the National Assembly to investigate these allegations were troubling and strange.
HURIWA recalled that bodies of about 105 soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State have been reported to have been secretly buried by the Nigerian Army at the military cemetery in Maiduguri last week.
HURIWA quoted some online and print newspapers as saying that the decomposed bodies of the men who were killed in an encounter with the terrorists penultimate week’s Wednesday were brought to Maiduguri last Monday evening in body bags and were confirmed by the Brigade Commander, Army Engineering Corps.
The military in an attempt to cover up the development, according to reporters, has denied that any soldier was missing and described an exclusive story published last Thursday by Premium Times as “a fabrication from the imagination of those sympathetic to Boko Haram ways of life.”
Military spokesman, Colonel Tukur Ismail Gusau said insurgents attacked the location of 157 Battalion last Wednesday, but they were “subsequently repelled by the gallant troops of the Unit.” He added that the unit’s commanding officer remained in contact with his Brigade Commander.
But the Rights group has in a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, called for a more transparent and accountable investigation of the entire scenario and for the Federal Government to inform Nigerians of the state of affairs of the current counter terrorism war including providing clear, unambiguous and concretely verifiable evidential information on the number of casualties as a way of honouring the heroes who have been killed whilst defending the territorial integrity of our Fatherland and as the best way to provide closure for their loved ones.
HURIWA said constitutional democracy thrives on freedom of information and the active participation of all citizens in some ways in the administration of the Country and stated that the accusations of secret burial of these huge numbers of soldiers allegedly slaughtered on the line of national duty must not be swept under the carpets as that would amount to disrespecting the dead and it would constitute grave disservice to Nigeria.
“This allegations if proven could mean that those responsible for this show of shame should be prosecuted for perjury since the military chiefs swore to an oath of office to be truthful and bear true allegiance to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Supreme law recognize the people of Nigeria as the owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria from where authority and legitimacy are donated to those holding public offices in trust for Nigerians “.
HURIWA said: “The Federal Government must come clean on this allegations and indeed Nigeria should erect a national monuments whereby the names of all the soldiers and innocent Nigerians slaughtered by Boko Haram terrorists in the last three years of vicious circles of deadly terrorism are inscribed and a day of national honour set aside as a national memorial for these gallant and very courageous Nigerians who have suffered and paid the ultimate prize for Our Fatherland.
“If indeed 105 soldiers were killed and secretly buried then those officials who made this decision must be prosecuted for duping Nigerians and for concealing vital information from the good people of Nigeria who are the real owners of our Sovereignty “.