Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria, has urged Federal Government to set up investigative panel on missing persons during 13 years of Boko Haram crisis in North East.
The Country Director, Isa Sanusi made the call on Thursday in Maiduguri during a press conference to commemorate International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance.
Sanusi also urged the National Assembly to make law that would mandate government to make sure that relevant agencies during conflicts were made to account for people in thier custody.
Sanusi said such law would ensure that law enforcement agencies do not arrest and keep people for years in thier custody without charging them to court.
He observed that many families with missing ones as a result of the conflict did not know were to go and seek information about thier loved ones.
According to him, there should be a data base of disappeared and missing persons in north east so that people with missing relatives could go and register thier grievance and sought answers on their relatives whereabout.
“Amnesty International urges Nigerian authorities to implement the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance effectively into national law.
“Ensure that enforced disappearances are thoroughly and effectively investigated, that suspects are prosecuted in accordance with international standards of due process, and that those found guilty receive punishments that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offense.
“Provide effective protection to persons who file complaints of missing persons and enforced disappearance, families of the disappeared person, witnesses and lawyers representing them.
“Create a comprehensive data base of disappeared and missing persons in the northeast,” Sanusi said.
He noted that such action would be the beginning of peace building as there was no way peace could be built in Borno and North East without cases of missing and disappeared people thoroughly addressed.
In her remarks, the Head of Allamin Foundation, the NGO working on missing persons in Borno, Hajiya Hamsatu Allamin, said the foundation registered over 23,000 missing persons since 2013 when State of Emergency was declared in Borno.
Allamin said during the period, the military who found it difficult to identify who was boko haram resorted to mass and indiscriminate arrest whenever there was attack in Maiduguri and environs.
“We registered over 23,000 missing persons,” Allamin said.
She noted that the foundation has been talking to the military who had now started releasing some of the missing ones in its custody.
“Within the past two years, the military has started releasing some of the victims to us and so far 1,886 persons from various places like Kiri Kiri, Kainji, Abuja, Giwa Barracks Maiduguri had been released to us.
“The other time we visited Giwa barracks, we have 88 women in detention but the last time we visited there were 16 women left,” Allamin said.
She lauded the military for providing the foundation access to its detention facilities in Giwa barracks, and urged for more support in facilitating the release and tracing of innocent missing persons, particularly those in custody of security agencies.
Allamin urged office of the Attorney-General of the federation to intervene as the final bus stop on the matter.
“The military need the office of attorney general to issue directive for any release to be effected,” Allamin said.
In thier respective remarks on behalf of Civil Society Organizations, Amb. Ahmed Shehu and Mr Bulama Abiso, who spoke on the ongoing peace process in Borno that led to mass surrender of insurgents, said if combatants could be forgiven, people arrested on mere suspicion or during curfew needed to be released.
They promised to embarked on advocacy to all governors in north east on the need for Investigative panel on the matter so that innocent persons in detention would regain there freedom.
Highlights of the occassion includes testimonies from relations of missing persons who pleaded with the authorities to open up on missing persons in their facilities.