The Federal Government recently set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Nigerian Military and it’s compliance with the rules of engagement in the war against the insurgency in the North East.
Members of the seven-man Commission include Hon. Justice Biobele A. Georgewill (Chairman), Major-General Patrick Akem, Mr. Wale Fapohunda, Mrs. Hauwa Ibrahim, Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwakama and the Representative of the office of the National Security Adviser.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to bring the concerns of stakeholders in the sub-region to the attention of the Federal Government (FG). For a Commission whose terms of reference are of great significance with wide implications, its credibility is now at stake as the question of an exclusive and all-Christian membership is being raised. This is likely to affect the prospects of a fair, impartial and objective fact-finding exercise.
It is being alleged that those who bear Muslim names among the members are non-Muslims. Jibrin Ibrahim is allegedly a Christian from Kano State. Hauwa Ibrahim who is from Gombe reportedly abandoned Islam a long time ago. He is married to an Italian and works with Harvard’s School of Divinity.
The exclusion of indigenes of the North East from membership of the Commission is another bone of contention. There is no single person from Adamawa, Borno or Yobe among the members. Yet these are the major stakeholders. Who feels it knows it. John cannot be taking panadol when Mustapha is the one who has headache.
The indigenes are the main victims of the insurgency. The fact that they speak the local languages and understand the various cultures and may be conversant with the history, trends and events as they unfolded should have qualified them for membership more than anyone else.
Is there a hidden agenda? Is something about to be swept under the carpet? The Nigerian Army is known for setting up probe panels to investigate itself and, expectedly, to vindicate itself and all its actions in the final findings. Is FG preparing the ground for a padded report?
MURIC demands a review of the membership of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the activities of the Nigerian Army in the North East insurgency. It is natural to nurse suspicions concerning a body established to investigate Muslim communities which excludes Muslims from its membership. Neither can the indigenes be expected to be comfortable or to repose confidence in a Commission in which they are not represented.
To round up, an experienced Muslim judge ought to have been made chairman of the commission while another Muslim should also serve as a member. It is definitely not too much to have at least two Muslims in a Commission whose membership is seven and whose area of operation is a predominantly Muslim territory.
Can anyone imagine the uproar that would be generated if an all-Muslim Commission is set up to investigate an issue based in the South-East, South-South or South-West? FG must always consider these factors in sensitive appointments and assignments. This is the way to make a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country work.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)