Int’l human rights group faults secret graves allegation

The International Human Rights Committee (IHRC) on Civil/Military Relations has dismissed as “speculation” the report of alleged secret military cemetery in the North Eastern region of the country as published by the Wall Street Journal.

It would be recalled that the Wall Street Journal had published a story in which it claimed that corpses of over 1,000 soldiers were buried in unmarked graves at night but the group has said it contradicts realities on ground.

According to details of the report which was presented to the Chairman, House of Representative Human Rights Committee, Rep John Idye on Thursday in Abuja by Oduma Richard Oduma, Head, Strategic Communication of IHRC, there is no secret military cemetery, at least in the north eastern part of Nigeria to the knowledge of the committee.

To this end, the group said it constituted a committee to verify the authenticity or otherwise of the allegations.

“This allegation is not only grave and injurious to the Nigerian army but also to the international community and calls for deep concerns as far as human rights are involved.

“To this end, the international human rights commission, African Regional Head office set up an ad -hoc committee on civil/military relations to investigate the existence of such secret military cemetery and come up with her findings as appropriate.

“This step became necessary so as to further protect the rights of citizens from abuse and also to insulate the Nigerian army from an unfair hemorrhage that such allegations, if not verified could occur,” the report read in part.

It further disclosed that the best methodology was used in carrying out its investigations and urged the National Assembly to collate findings of other creditable groups on the allegations.

“The international human rights committee on civil/military relations made visits to the sites as mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and other media platforms.

“The committee also interacted with military personnel at the commands and family members as well as members of the public.

“A town hall meeting was organized in order to gather and evaluate views in clusters; varied questionnaires were administered to both military personnel and civilians for their objective views.

“The committee engaged the services of international research analysts to divulge the contents of the administered questionnaires and harmonise them accordingly.

“This committee also met with other international human rights and advocacy organisations such as the Global Amnesty watch , Mahatma Ghandi Peace foundation Nepal  on the field for independent investigations,” the report added.

The group urged the House of Representatives to invite other international organisations to also share their findings with Nigerians.

Receiving the report, the House Committee Chairman, Rep. John Idye, commended the organisation for their commitment in unearthing the facts about the allegation.

“This honorable committee pending the presentation of the full report will adopt this preliminary finding for review so as to further clear the air on every and any pending anxiety and ambiguity occasioned by the wall Street Journal publication.

“This is just for the records as the image of our military need to be preserved against misinformation in the future.

“The Nigerian military remains the most important institution for the preservation of the sovereignty of our nation.

“Allegations of such grave proportion by international and local media needed more censorship than just mere passive comments by international human rights groups and citizens and even the military authorities.

“So your sacrifice has shown beyond any iota of doubt that you are driven by democracy and its advancement than primordial sentiments that motivate most international organisations,” Idye stated.