The Nigerian Army on Wednesday denied forcing the 486 Boko Haram suspects arrested on their way from Jigawa to Port Harcourt on June 15, 2014, in 33 buses to drink urine.
Army witness, Maj. Chudi Aniukwu, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja, when he testified before the Presidential Investigation Panel on Human Right Violation.
Aniukwu, who was cross-examined by Mr. Abdullahi Achara, counsel to the petitioners, debunked the allegation.
Aniukwu, also a Controller of the Nigerian Army Operation Centre, North East, said none of the arrested suspects was forced to drink urine as reported in the media.
He said that the 486 suspects ate the same food with the soldiers, adding that the suspects were kept for seven days for proper profiling by the DSS.
Aniukwu said that out of the 486 suspects, only one person was identified by the DSS as a Boko Haram suspect, adding that nothing was found on the remaining suspects.
Aniukwu said he got a call at 3 a.m. on June 15, 2014, that the Army in Port Harcourt had intercepted Boko Haram suspects, crossing over to other parts of Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta.
” We placed all our checkpoints on maximum alert, and I got a call that they have intercepted 33 buses, carrying only men who had nothing on them.
“We moved all of them to Abia headquarters of the Army base, and we informed the highest authority in the Army and the DSS.’’
He said after serious scrutiny and proper profiling by the DSS, only one person was found to be a member of Boko Haram.
The Army witness said what aroused suspicion was that such a huge number of movement of people had not been witnessed on a single day, and considering the volatile security situation in the country at the time
He, however, said that the Abia Government provided the needed support for the suspects while in Army custody, adding that all of them were well fed
He said after the investigation by the DSS, the driver of each vehicle was given N22,000 to enable them to return to their destinations.
Mr. Suleiman Adamu, a driver of one of the vehicles, who testified, said the passengers were going to Port Harcourt for greener pastures.
Prof Akinseye George, (SAN) counsel to the Military, who cross-examined Adamu, said that 17 passengers were on his own bus.
He said that he knew some of the people in the other buses, especially the driver, stating that not all of the passengers were known to him.
According to him, “I am a driver and I used to convey passengers to Port Harcourt, I have been driving the same route for 15 years.’’
He said that as a driver and passengers, they were all looking for greener pasture, stressing that he was held in the Army custody for 12 days, contrary to Army’s claim of seven days.
Chairman of the Panel, Justice Biobele George, discharged the witness after his testimony.
He said that their complaints would be looked into and recommendations submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for necessary action.