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December 2, 2023

SIIP-North East resumes sitting, visits UMTH on fact-finding mission

From Sani Gazas Chinade, Damaturu

The Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in North East Nigeria (SIIP-North East) resumed its 7th sitting in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

This is as part of its efforts to unravel the truth in the Reuters report published in December 2022, which alleged various forms of human rights violations by the Nigerian Military. The panel also visited the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) on a fact-finding mission.

In a statement signed by Agharese Arase, Director Corporate Affairs and External Linkages Department, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), said it had become necessary for the panel to visit the medical facility to seek the support needed in conducting further investigations into the alleged human rights violations mentioned in the Reuters report.

Aboki said although the medical facility was not categorically mentioned in the Reuters 4-part reports, it became expedient to conduct an investigation in the facility, being a Referral Centre where most of the secondary healthcare cases are brought.

The Secretary of the panel, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna, revealed that the panel held its inaugural sitting on the 7th of February 2023 and had conducted similar investigations at both military and Civilian facilities across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.

He added that the panel comprises of experts with specialties in different fields relevant to the subject of the investigation.

Ogbonna emphasized that as a tertiary Hospital which serves as a major referral Centre, it is imperative to interact with the Chief Medical Director (CMD) and Heads of relevant departments to obtain important information that may be needed to ascertain the truth in the Reuter’s report.

He said the panel would be fielding questions to the CMD, HOD obstetrics and gynaecology, HOD Pharmacy, HOD Nursing Services, and HOD Histopathology in order to be in sync with what the panel did at the Secondary medical facilities in the State, which are Borno State Specialist Hospital and Umaru Shehu Ultra-Modern Hospital, all in Maiduguri, Borno State.

On his part, the CMD of UMTH, Prof. Ahmed Ahijo, expressed the readiness of himself and his team to cooperate with the Panel as it conducts its investigations.

It would be recalled that the SIIP-North East was set up by the federal government to unravel the truth about a report by a foreign media, Reuters, which alleged that the Nigerian Military, among other things, conducted 10,000 abortions on women during the counter-insurgency operation, massacred children, and committed other forms of human rights violations.

So far, the SIIP-North East has heard testimonies from 8 witnesses at its resumed sitting in Borno state.

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Mustapha Salisu

Mustapha Salisu is a graduate of BSc. Information and Media Studies from Bayero University Kano, with experience in Communication Skills as well as Public Relations.

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