IDPs sexual abuse: Police probe stalled as army shields indicted soldiers

There were indications on Wednesday that the police had stopped investigations into allegations of sexual abuse of women and teenagers levelled against some soldiers, policemen and camp officials at Internally Displaced Persons camps in the North-East.

It was gathered that those involved have not faced any disciplinary action as the investigative panel into the abuse has not submitted any report eight months after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a comprehensive investigation into the allegation.

The Human Rights Watch had, in a report on October 30, 2016, alleged that some Nigerian security officials and other government functionaries raped and sexually exploited women and girls displaced by Boko Haram attacks on communities in the northeast.

The President, had on November 1, 2016, directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr .Ibrahim Idris, to commence investigations into the allegations by the HRW.

Findings, however, showed that the suspects might not be prosecuted as the police were unable to take necessary legal steps to bring them to justice.

Police sources stated that the army refused to hand over to the police for investigation, a number of soldiers that were fingered in the sexual abuse and exploitation of female IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

It was further gathered that the police high command had also neglected to take any punitive action against policemen that were alleged to have sexually abused women in the camps.

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A source said, “The fact is that the government officials, soldiers and policemen that were indicted in the probe may not be punished at the end of the day.

“The investigation was not conclusive because the military authorities refused to release for interrogation the soldiers that were accused of sexually abusing the women and teenagers and there is nothing the police can do about this.”

Another source said, “The military authorities said they would discipline the indicted personnel, but there is no guarantee that this would be done.

“Also, all the camp officials and policemen that were indicted could be said to have been let off the hook because nothing has been done to them since they were granted administrative bail by the police.

“What is clear is that eight months after the presidential directive, the police have refused to arraign any suspect in court, and have refused to disclose the next line of action against the indicted officials.”

Attempts to know the state of the investigation was rebuffed by the officer-in-charge, IG Monitoring Unit, DCP Abu Sani, whose office was coordinating the probe.

He informed one of our correspondents that the report of the investigation would be dispatched to the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, about two weeks ago, but repeated checks showed that he has not done so.

When contacted, Moshood said that investigation was ongoing, adding that the policemen that were indicted for the crime were “still under investigation.”

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Asked if the military personnel involved in the crime were interrogated by the police, the police spokesman said he could not say, but added that every agency was investigating its personnel that were accused of involvement in the sexual abuse of the female IDPs.

“What I know is that the policemen that were accused of being involved in the case are all under investigation. Other government officials that were also accused were interrogated by the police, but I cannot say if the military personnel that were named in the crime were interrogated. However, each of the security agencies is probing the involvement of its personnel in the case and at the end of it, all the investigations would be merged and handled by the police,” Moshood said on Wednesday.

When asked for the number of policemen under investigation, he promised to find out, but did not get back to one of our correspondents as of the time of filing this report.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, could not be reached for comment on the allegation of the soldiers being shielded from police investigation.

Text messages sent to his line also was not replied to as of press time.

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