Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada
The Federal Government has promised that the Nigerian troops currently deployed for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), will abide by the Geneva Convention on the Rules of Engagement (RoE) guiding wars and other conflict situations.
The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, gave this assurance yesterday when the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) visited her office as part of their wider tour of countries involved in the ongoing peacekeeping and enforcement in northern Mali.
Obada said the Nigerian soldiers, consisting of mostly Army and Air Force personnel, are well trained in the art of war and abides by the principles guiding RoE.
She noted that though the Nigerian contingent’s primary focus is to root out Islamist terrorist from Mali, they will however protect those not involved in the conflict.
She said: “It is very important that all troops must respect in its entirety, the Geneva Convention. Nigeria, I can assure you will observe the RoE because we are very peaceful and law abiding.
“We will however ensure that those not involved in the conflict are protected...and assure (again) that we will abide by the RoE”.
“In case, there is any collateral damages it will not be intentional by the Nigerian military but we will stick with the rule,” she added.
Earlier, the Head of ICRC to Nigeria, Mr. Zoran Jovanovic, commended the efforts of the Federal Government towards the restoration of peace and stability in Mali.
Jovanovic however stated that their mission to Nigeria and other participants in the conflict in the troubled West African nation is to ensure that they abide by the Geneva Convention on RoE guiding conflicts.
“We are sending letters to all the countries involved in the conflict (in Mali) to observe the Geneva Convention (on RoE),” he said.
“We want all the participants to observe the convention, which Nigeria is a signatory,” he added.
The International Human Rights Organisations like the Red Cross and Amnesty International have often alleged serious human rights violations by countries involved in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns, including Nigeria.