The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that the investigation into the allegation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that President Goodluck Jonathan was training and arming a killer squad for this year’s elections has been frustrated by lack of cooperation by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and the former president.
Chairman of NHRC, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, who disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend, said both individuals, who were key to the investigation, refused to provide the commission with the necessary evidence.
Odinkalu said both men had refused to honour NHRC’s requests to furnish it with the necessary information and evidence it required to carry out the investigation.
Obasanjo had in an 18-page letter to Jonathan in December 2013 accused the president of among others, keeping over 1,000 people on his political watch list while also secretly training snipers and other armed personnel as well as acquiring weapons for political purposes.
The president then minuted the letter to the AGF who in turn forwarded that aspect of the letter to the NHRC for investigation.
Odinkalu said the commission, in trying to give all the parties the opportunity to make their presentations, had written both men twice, but got no response.
He said: “What happened was very straight forward. We need materials and evidence from different people. We had written to the Attorney General of the Federation to give us his evidence. We wrote to General Obasanjo to give us his evidence. And we have heard from neither side. We repeated the demand and have heard from neither side.
“The process is facts-based. It is evidence-led. We are not going to sit down here and manufacture evidence. We wanted to give everybody a chance before proceeding. Again, we wanted to convene a public hearing, but again, it was close to the elections.
“So we took a deliberate decision that we did not want to make that a factor in the elections. After the elections, we are going to reconvene that hearing. But if the attitude continues, which is that neither side is willing to give us evidence, we will adjourn it sine die (indefinitely).”
Odinkalu also explained why the commission decided not to go public on its conclusion of the case of rights abuse made against the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, by his wife, Clara.
Mrs. Chime had accused her husband of keeping her incommunicado against her wish and preventing her access to their son on the grounds that she was mentally unstable.
“The commission also has the responsibility to fashion remedies to fit the facts. In the case of the wife of the Enugu State governor, the most important thing for us was that there is a child involved who is barely four years old.
“We have a responsibility to that child. And everything we have done has been focused on making sure that that child is protected. Everything we did was done in the best interest of that child,” he said.
He said the commission would undertake an independent investigation into allegations of rights abuses by opposition figures who had claimed that agents of the federal government had bugged their telephones and deployed armed soldiers against them.
“If somebody wants the commission to be involved, he should bring us the materials, give us the evidence. Or allow us to access the evidence.
“We have received about 10 petitions on election-related violence. We have constituted the most high-powered investigating team this commission has ever instituted to see us through the season of the elections.
“We will take on everything. We are not going to shy away from it. We are going to do our homework and the necessary investigations and come out with our findings,” he said.