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Sagir Musa: Nigerian Army and allegations of human rights abuses

Sagir Musa: Nigerian Army and allegations of human rights abuses

Human rights are primary rights and freedoms that belong to each individual on the planet, from delivery till dying. These rights are elementary, inalienable, pure and lawful and are hooked up to human existence. They’re based mostly on shared values like dignity, equality, equity, respect and independence irrespective of intercourse, faith or ethnicity. Some of these rights embrace however not restricted to rights to life, to peaceable meeting and affiliation, freedom of motion, to have and categorical opinion, to household life, freedom of thought, conscience and faith. In Nigeria these rights are entrenched in chapter IV part 32 of the 1999 structure.

Nigeria is a sovereign nation with all of the rights and privileges that goes with an unbiased nation. These rights are naturally prolonged to the residents and violation of it’s an abuse of such proper. Therefore, NA as an element of the Nigerian nation shouldn’t be exempted from respecting these rights in or out of battle conditions.

The first roles of the NA are to guard the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to help the civil authority when referred to as upon to take action. In discharging these constitutional obligations, there have been allegations of human rights violations towards the NA by native and worldwide human rights campaigners, – Civil Society Teams and Non Governmental Organizations just like the Amnesty Worldwide, Transparency Worldwide and Human Rights Watch amongst others.

These allegations border on additional judicial killings, torture, extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention in addition to sexual philandering or exploitation. Others are poor detention facility and pitiable medical entry and provides to suspects in army detention facilities. These claims painting the NA in dangerous mild, create rancor and mistrust between the military and the civil populace, dampen the morale of troops within the operational arenas, have the tendency to distract the army management and malign the picture and status of the NA.

Subsequently, as a way to handle these accusations, the management of the NA has through the years, initiated and institutionalized sure measures meant to get rid of rights abuses by the personnel of the NA.

DELIBERATE MEASURES BY THE NA TO ELIMINATE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

PRODUCTION OF CODE OF CONDUCT FOR NA PERSONNEL

The NA has a Code of Conduct for its personnel which is a authorized doc, an moral information and a transparent directive consisting of how members of the military ought to behave at any given time or state of affairs. It’s drawn based mostly on the worldwide human rights and humanitarian legal guidelines, and is a nicely thought-out and documented code and normal working procedures particularly for troops in operations. Any violation to any facet of the doc by any member of the NA attracts applicable sanctions.

The extant custom/rule within the NA is that for each unlawful motion or inaction, there have to be penalties/retribution.Because of this; the tendency for rights abuses is being curtailed.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

To make sure efficient management of arbitrariness and lawlessness by NA personnel, deliberate, unambiguous guidelines or directives that outline the circumstances, circumstances, diploma and method by which the use of pressure or actions which could be construed as provocative could also be utilized, are given out by competent authority to each soldier on inner safety operation. These guidelines are constant, account for a spread of potential situations and the political and army points of a given state of affairs. They describe applicable motion relating to unarmed mobs, the use of pressure in self protection, actions when confronted with hostile hearth, taking or remedy of prisoners and civilians amongst different points.

In Nigeria, such consciousness and the penchant for the respect for human rights by the army management, ensures that always, troops are conscious of these guidelines earlier than they’re launched into the operational area, and any violation is met with critical penalty. By so doing rather a lot of rights abuses are being checkmated.

LEGAL SERVICES

Personnel of the NA are being educated on Army and Civil Legal guidelines, Legal guidelines of Armed Battle/human rights Legal guidelines. Equally, respect for others, selfless service, integrity, loyalty, professionalism and self-discipline have been some of the core values of the NA.

To make sure its personnel are sound on this regard, related seminars and workshops are sometimes being organized on authorized consciousness with a view to enhancing their capability in authorized acquaintance. Skilled our bodies such because the Nigerian Bar Affiliation, Centre for Disaster Monitoring and Communications in addition to some Worldwide NGOs just like the Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross are periodically invited to ship lectures/ coaching periods on human rights, Legal guidelines of Armed Battle and Safety of Civilians in Battle Conditions. The target is to make sure that personnel respect human rights and are acutely aware of the results of their actions or inaction at any given state of affairs.

NIGERIAN ARMY’s EFFORTS TO CHECKMATE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL TY BURATAI

On assumption of obligation on July 2018, Lt Gen TY Buratai was by no means unsure as to the big challenges he has to surmount so as to restore the dignity of a military and the nation terribly shattered by Boko Haram terrorists. As a polyvalent army strategist, he understands the important thing roles of wonderful Civil Army Relations/Cooperation notably in interval of a number of, dynamic and intermestic safety challenges resembling terrorism, farmers – herdsmen clashes and violent secessionist agitation amongst others. And to this finish, he immediately rejigged and empowered the Division of Civil – Army Affairs (DCMA) to perform successfully, particularly within the marketing campaign for the safety and respect for human rights by the NA.

STRENTHENING THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL – MILITARY AFFAIRS

Step one taken to checkmate human rights abuses was to rejig and strengthen the DCMA. Consequently, sensitization workshops and campaigns on safety of human rights are dynamically carried out for members of the NA.

Equally, company social duty tasks like development of boreholes, feeder roads, renovation of medical centres and faculties amongst others throughout chosen communities in Nigeria have been carried out notably throughout operations and workouts. This has endeared the troops to the locals and ushered in a way of togetherness and mutual respect.

Likewise, the NA by way of the division, companions with some human rights organizations such because the United Nations (UN) Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to develop capability that may improve professionalism and responsiveness in selling humanitarian rules and conduct throughout operations. Such human rights sensitization workshops harped on operational civil – army interactions, humanitarian rules, notion, actions, tips, safety and coordination in addition to humanitarian entry.

Whereas declaring human rights workshop open in eight Process Drive Division, the Chief of Civil – Army Affairs Maj Gen Nuhu Angbazo who represented the COAS said that “the NA has embarked on this sensitization workshop so that our troops can become knowledgeable in the Laws of Armed Conflicts and therefore avoid those unprofessional conducts that could destroy their career and tarnish the good image of the NA” (Vanguard, Jun 2018).

ESTABLISHMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DESK

One other laudable initiative by the present NA management in its constant efforts to checkmate proper abuses was the institution of Human Rights Desk on the Army Headquarters and in all of the formation headquarters throughout the nation.The features of the human rights desk embrace receiving paperwork; examine complaints from people, organizations and establishments on rights violations involving NA personnel, make findings to the COAS on human rights complaints within the nation, produce annual studies and critiques. Others are replace present coaching manuals, liaising and facilitating interplay with human rights organizations, strategize and strengthen capability of the NA in selling human rights.

Whereas commissioning the human rights workplace on the Headquarters of 7 Division NA in Maiduguri, the COAS who was represented by the Chief of Civil – Army Affairs stated “the establishment of the desk office was borne out of the increasing interest of local and international rights bodies on what the army is doing in the North East and other parts of Nigeria”. “The NA is trying to open up the system and close the gap with the civil populace, human rights bodies and Civil Society Organizations; the nature of inquiries, commentaries and claims from these institutions requires a response of professional and specialized in nature by the NA. What we are witnessing today has been facilitated by the Nigerian Bar Association and National Human Rights Commission”, he added.

On the event, the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Safety Workforce in Nigeria, Mr Martin Ejidike recommended the initiative of the NA. “The NA is setting important precedence for the human rights work in Nigeria. This will create a context of engagement and information sharing between the CSOs and the NA. The NA has done commendable work for improved human rights records. We want to extend the support of the UN system and to furnish you with technical support to the desk,” Ejidike assured (Day by day Submit, 18 Feb, 2016, Every day Belief four Oct, 2014).

ESTABLISHMENT OF TOLL FREE CALL CENTRE & PUBLIC COMPLAINTS RAPID RESPONSE UNIT

On 19 June 2018, at a Army – Media – Public Consciousness Programme at Jabi Motor Park, Abuja organized by CLEEN Basis, the COAS via the Army Human Rights Desk Officer, Main Naazem Langpoe said that -“the army is passionate about the rights of civilians, and had measures in place to ensure that rights of civilians are protected”.

“These measures include the opening of Free Toll Line 193, designated Toll Free Call Centre and Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit”. The workplaces and the toll line 193 are opened to members of the general public whose rights have been infringed upon; they will all the time stroll in to the workplace and lodge their complaints. Additionally in the course of the first quarter COAS convention, the military has launched some books on respect for human rights throughout operations. All these are deliberate efforts by the NA’s management to get rid of rights abuses by its personnel.

CONSTRUCTION AND COMMISSIONING OF JOINT INVESTIGATION CENTRE AND CELLS FOR BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS

In response to complaints of human rights abuses of detainees resulting from poor state of the detention facility in Giwa Barracks Maiduguri, within the areas of poor sanitary situation/air flow, overcrowding and irregular water provide, the COAS has on Friday April 29, 2018, commissioned 400 capability Joint Investigation Centre and Detention Cells for Boko Haram suspects in Maiduguri.The amenities are constructed with warmth and ordour extractor, coupled with constructed borehole to allow detainees entry water.

The COAS was represented by the then Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Maj Gen Rogers Nicholas who said through the commissioning that – “this modern facility will go a long way in changing the narrative in the criticism of the Nigerian military, this is a clear indication that we welcome positive criticisms to see where we can improve on it, and this is what we have demonstrated here”, he added (Management, 29 Apr, 2018).

CONSTRUCTION OF ADDITIONAL SAFE HOLDING FACILITY

On the 15 November 2018, the NA management permitted the graduation of the development of further holding facility to enhance the administration of detainees throughout investigations.

On the basis laying ceremony, the Chief of Logistics NA, Maj Gen Enobong Udoh said that the continued counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations within the North East, has made it obligatory for arrest and detention of suspected insurgents who have to be correctly taken care of in accordance with worldwide greatest practices whereas in custody. Based on him “the quest for a functional transit safe holding and detention facility, with adequate sanitary conditions for the effective management of suspected Boko Haram Terorists for further investigation activities, is the driving force behind the execution of this project by the COAS”.

On the event, Mr Markus Dolder, the Head of Sub Delegation of the ICRC, described the bottom breaking ceremony as “indicative of the compliance of the NA with global best practices. This will further strengthen the cooperation between the army and stake holders, especially in the management of suspects undergoing investigation”.

CONSTITUTION OF SPECIAL BOARD OF INQUIRY TO PROBE ALLEGED CASES OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

The institution of Particular Board of Inquiry by the COAS in March 2017, to probe alleged instances of human rights violations leveled towards the NA personnel, particularly within the ongoing counter terrorism operation is one other commendable effort to probe and checkmate human rights abuses by the NA.

In the course of the inauguration of the board, Lt Gen Buratai said that “Individuals and organizations like the Amnesty International reports, indigenous People of Biafra have made allegations of human rights violations of arrested Boko Haram Terrorists against some of our senior officers and commanders”. “The allegations range from extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected Boko Haram terrorists”. “These allegations are not good for civil-military relations and are capable of demoralizing NA personnel in the performance of their constitutional roles”, he added (Management, April, 29, 2018).

Based on him, it’s expedient to completely and impartially examine the allegations to be able to discover out the information to allow related authorities to take applicable actions. “Those wrongly accused should be exonerated, but those found guilty should be treated in line with the full military justice system”, he additional said (Punch, March eight, 2017).This additional attests to the efforts being made by the NA to get rid of human rights infractions amongst its personnel.

ENFORCEMENT/APPLICATION OF FULL MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM TO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS

Common, well timed and efficient enforcement of extant guidelines/software of sanctions to human rights violators is one of the methods the NA makes use of to curtail human rights abuses by its personnel. In the mean time, any confirmed case of rights infraction is being met with most punishment.
This manner, human rights abuses are additionally drastically being curtailed within the NA.

ESTABLISHMENT OF INFORMATION CENTRES DURING EXERCISES/OPERATIONS

The NA has made the institution of info centre a key element of any train or operation. On the centre is the place low scale briefing on the train to essential dignitaries is carried out. Moreover, the centre serves as an avenue for info dissemination by way of the press to members of the general public. Being the primary level of name, such centre is open to members of the general public with credible info or complaints particularly the place human rights are trampled upon. This manner, rights abuses by the NA are checkmated throughout operations and workouts.

OPERATIONS ORDER

NA has additionally successfully encapsulated within the operations order the problems of respect for human rights and avoidance of collateral damages. All troops collaborating in any operation are sensitized and warned about these, and the results of disobedience to those directions.

CONCLUSION

The allegations of human rights abuses towards the NA, notably within the conduct of counter insurgency operation are challenge of nice concern to the NA. Consequently, numerous actions have been taken to make sure that rights violations by NA personnel are absolutely curtailed.

Instructively, the three key ideas endemic within the COAS Lt Gen TY Buratai’s imaginative and prescient for the NA,- Professionalism, Responsiveness and Working inside the ambit of the Structure of Nigeria, – signify that wonderful Civil – Army Relations anchored on adherence to the Rule of Regulation and Respect for Human Rights are essential to the attainment of the imaginative and prescient.

On this regard, efforts are being made within the areas of strengthening of the prevailing Guidelines of Engagement, Code of Conduct, empowering the DCMA, sensitization workshops, institution of Human Rights Desk, and institution of Free Name Numbers and immediate enforcement of sanctions to rights violators amongst others with the purpose of checkmating rights abuses by the NA.

Usually, at present, there’s critical discount within the reported instances or accusations of human rights violations towards the NA. It’s apparent with the current tempo of the NA, it’s only a matter of time when rights abuses might be successfully curbed or eradicated.

Colonel Sagir Musa is the Deputy Director Public Relations 82 Division

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