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The claim by Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar that Amnesty International was granted access to Giwa barracks detention center and that it had “accessed the facilities” is completely false.

Amnesty International has repeatedly requested access to the detention center and it has never been granted.

The most recent request was made during a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff in February 2016. This was followed up with written requests to the Attorney General, National Security Advisor, Chief of Defense Staff and, most recently, by letter to the Chief of Army Staff on March 3. No response has been received.

No member of Amnesty International staff has ever been granted access or has been inside the barracks.

Amnesty International remains extremely keen to visit Giwa barracks and would very much welcome an invitation granting our researchers permission to do so. 

Asked whether he will “step up the investigation” into conditions in Giwa barracks, President Buhari told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on May 12, “We have to do it.” 

Amnesty International is calling on President Buhari to waste no more time before launching an urgent investigation into deaths in detention and to shut down Giwa barracks detention center without delay.

Background

The military said that Amnesty International’s report came as a “surprise and shock” to them despite the fact that the organization shared its preliminary findings with Nigerian authorities requesting response before publishing its report.

Amnesty International wrote to the Chief of Army Staff on April 12, 2016, requesting a response to its evidence and further information on deaths in detention.

On April 20, 2016 the Chief of Army Staff replied, directing Amnesty International to the office of the Attorney General. There was no response to the evidence raised in the letter. Amnesty International wrote to the Attorney General and the Chief of Defense Staff on April 27, 2016. Amnesty International only received a letter of acknowledgment from the office of the Attorney General today after the publication of the report.

Amnesty International also rejects the dismissal of its findings by the military as “completely baseless, unfounded and source-less.” The briefing is based on verified witness accounts, including 15 interviews, conducted in 2016 by phone with former detainees, their relatives, eyewitnesses, human rights activists, and medical professionals.

Amnesty International received 17 photos and videos showing bodies of detainees deposited at a mortuary by soldiers from Giwa barracks. These were analyzed by Amnesty International staff and an independent forensics expert. Amnesty International requested and analyzed available satellite images of Giwa barracks and Gwange cemetery to corroborate witness testimony.

The briefing builds on years of research on the situation in north-east Nigeria conducted through regular visits to Maiduguri and the region. 

In a transcript of CNN interview (provided by CNN) Christiane Amanpour asks: “So will you further your investigation, step up the investigation into this particular detention center, Maiduguri?” President Buhari replies: “We have to do it.”