Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army has set up a board to review the report of the committee set to investigate allegations of misconduct leveled against its officers and soldiers in the just concluded general election.
Our correspondent gathered that the committee which submitted its report about two months ago, indicted some personnel over their conduct even as the army has refused to make the report public as it had promised when the committee was set up.
Army sources told our correspondent that the review of the committee’s report was necessary to enable it to prevent a future occurrence as well as present a clean document to President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was also gathered that the report when fully reviewed by the army authorities would be forwarded to President Buhari, because of the revelations and findings made by the nine-member committee headed by one Major-General T.A. Gagariga.
It was gathered that some personnel were indicted after a though investigation by the committee to unravel the role of soldiers during the general elections especially in Rivers, Adamawa and some other states in the North East where the army got petitions over the misconduct of its personnel deployed for electoral duties.
A source who does not want to be mentioned, confirmed that the report had been submitted as the committee had a deadline of March 31, even though it exceeded the deadline.
The source said that “the committee has submitted its report which is currently being reviewed. They have to review it and make an executive summary of it because it would be submitted to the Commander in Chief, president Muhammadu Buhari, because of the findings by the committee.
“The report has been submitted to the COAS, and I am sure he has set up a Board of Inquiry (BoI), to review it.
“Some personnel were indicted after the investigations by the members who had access to some of the evidences like video clips, photographs and from some stakeholders and private investigations carried out by the committee to clear their doubts.”
It was gathered that members of the committee visited virtually all the states where misconduct of soldiers were reported and interacted with not just the chief executives there but other stakeholders.
Another source told our correspondent that “the report may be presented to the public any moment from now and I believe it would be presented the way it was submitted just like the one Taraba State.”
Continuing, the source said the report would be submitted the way it was because “I am sure the chief would also want to exonerate himself because it is believed in some quarters that he has a hand in all the bad things that happened during the elections so I can assure that the public would soon know what happened and what did not happen.
“So the report has been submitted and It is being reviewed,” the source said.
Our correspondent also gathered that aside visiting and meeting the state chief executives whom they interviewed, the committee also interview personnel who were allegedly indicted to hear their own side of the story.
The Nigerian Army had before setting up the committee, vowed to deal with anyone found culpable.
The army’s reaction came after a video footage showing the invasion of the home of the Rivers State Commissioner of Education, Dr Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja by soldiers in Port Harcourt went virile on the social media.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Saghir Musa, had in a statement at the time, said the army was conducting a forensic investigation of a CCTV. It was gathered that the outcome of the forensic investigations of the CCTV footage might have prompted the army authorities to go deeper into the allegations made by some state governors especially Rivers State.
A statement issued by Colonel Sagir announcing the setting up of the committee, said it had a deadline of March 31, 2019, to submit its report.
The statement read: “As a way of ensuring that NA troops deployed for election security duties during the 2019 general elections conducted themselves within laid down Rules of Engagement and the Code of Conduct, the NA has set up a nine-member investigative committee, headed by Major General T.A. Gagariga with Brigadier General J.M. Ali, Brigadier General G.O. Adeshina, Brigadier General M.A. Obari, Colonel A.T. Bitiyong, Colonel A. Tanko and Colonel W.A. Bakare, as members and Lieutenant Colonel P.A.J. Ebuk as Secretary, to investigate all allegations of misconduct against the NA during the just concluded general elections. The committee is to submit its report not later than 31st of March, 2019.
“The committee, which has already commenced action, was inaugurated by the Chief of Administration (Army), Major General K.A.Y. Isiyaku on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and admonished to carry out their duties objectively, fairly and transparently in line with its Terms of Reference.
“The committee’s Terms of Reference centred on thoroughly investigating the activities, actions and/or inactions of NA Personnel in all the states that alleged one infraction/wrong doing or the other. The committee is also to collate and thoroughly analyse all reports to determine the veracity of the allegations including the alleged assassination attempt on Rivers State governor and the circumstances that led to the shooting to death of Lt. Kurmi, as well as that leading to serious injuries to an officer and some soldiers in the state.
“The committee is further mandated to visit all states where issues have been raised about the conduct of NA during and after the elections and also interact with Civil Society Organizations, sister security agencies and state governors with claims against the Army.
“It would be recalled that the COAS, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Buratai has on many fora, consistently (both in words and actions), soundly indicated that, under his watch, NA personnel must remain apolitical, respect human rights and abide by the rule of law in all its official engagements within or outside Nigeria and in or out of conflict situations. NA troops were deployed for the elections under Operation SAFE CONDUCT that was set up to provide support to the NP and other security agencies to ensure hitch free and successful elections in the country.
“The Chairman of the committee, Major General T.A. Gagariga has assured the COAS and all Nigerians of the committee’s commitment, resolve and determination to objectively and professionally address the major issues as contained in the Committee’s Terms of Reference.”
When contacted, the Director, Army Public Relations, who did not deny or confirm the report, said: “I’m not available at this moment. I’ll get back to you soon.”
He never did at the time of filing this report.