To investigate N’East operations, Rivers elections, military clashes with Shiites, IPOB, others Military kills 58 terrorists, clears more hideouts in the North-east
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters has set up a committee on human rights with a clear mandate to independently verify all the allegations of human rights violations levelled against the personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the discharge of their duties across the country.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, while inaugurating the 12-man committee in Abuja yesterday, charged them to dispassionately look into various human rights issues, which borders on the conduct of the troops in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.
Olonisakin said in furtherance of the DHQ commitment to demonstrate its resolve to protect of human rights, it became necessary to task independent-minded individuals to examine the conduct of the military operations.
It is on this premise, he noted, that each member of the committee was invited to look into the complaints of human rights abuses levelled against the personnel of the armed forces.
He urged the committee to expand their focus beyond the North-east, to also include other areas of contention including the issues emanating from clashes with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and Rivers State election rerun, amongst others.
Although he said most of the accusations against the AFN emanated from the North-east in the ongoing Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Operations (CT COIN), but your focus should not be limited to the North-east alone.
The CDS said the inauguration of the committee was to further demonstrate the openness and commitment to all and sundry that the AFN is a responsive organisation despite the operational challenges.
He said the Nigerian military is through this, out to prove that it does not condone acts of human rights violations.
He said: “We are all aware of the arduous tasks of our troops in their fight against terrorists, insurgents and other sundry crimes to ensure security of lives and property as well as corporate existence of Nigeria. Generally, our troops are succeeding and their collective actions reflect the highest standard of professionalism as the well as strict adherence to the tenets of human rights conventions.
“Therefore, it is necessary to dispel all wrongly held opinions that the armed forces condone and encourage violations of human rights in the conduct of their operations.”
“It is to be noted that the armed forces are always guided by global best practices, Rules of Engagement (ROE) for military operations other than war as well as Codes of Conduct for internal security operations. The armed forces are not unaware of some isolated cases of human rights violations but such instances are promptly dealt with.
“However, you must have noted our continued engagement with the Amnesty International (AI), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to put the records straight when the need arises,” he added.
Olonisakin listed the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the discharge of their assignments including collation and documentation of written complaints, as well as investigation of all the alleged rights violations , interface with human rights bodies, recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary and advise generally on modalities to curtail violations of human rights by troops.
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Maj-Gen. Abubakar Gana (rtd), assured that the committee will conduct an objective and unbiased investigations.
Gana also assured that they would be factual in their recommendations and submissions, adding that the committee will soon make public its contact telephone numbers to receive complaints from the public.
Also speaking with journalists shortly after the inauguration, Gana said they would investigate all reported cases of rights violations against the military including the recent Rivers rerun elections.
Other members of the committee are: Commodore O.O Olawumi (rtd), Group Captain J.P Musa (rtd), and Directors of Legal Services from the Ministry of Defence, Army, Air Force and Navy.
They also include: Director Coordination DHQ Air, Commodore O.O Akinsanya; Representative of the Attorney General of the Federation, Juliet Ibekaku; Representative of National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Harry Ogwuche Obe; Representative of Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Mr. Bello Diram and Col. O.N Taiwo as the Committee Secretary.
Meanwhile, in continuation of its clearance operations of Boko Haram remnants in the North-east, the Nigerian military has killed 58 of the terrorists in the last two days.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, in a statement yesterday, said the troops of 153 ask Force Brigade, 5 Brigade recorded this success on Monday during an encounter with terrorists at Musari village in Borno State.
During the clearance operations, Usman said a soldier paid the supreme price, while the troops killed 58 terrorists and recovered two hand grenades.
He listed other items recovered to include 52 motorcycles, several bags of foodstuffs such as beans, onions, sweet potatoes and guinea corn, as well as cartons of fish.
In a related development, he said troops from the 29 Task Force Brigade have also conducted clearing operations on the remnants of Boko Haram in their area of operations with remarkable success.
He said: “Within the last two days the units under the brigade cleared the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in the following areas; Abukarti, Baradili, Borgozo, Gaijaribul Abukar, kolomi, Marguba, Umarumi and Yasori 1 and 2.
“The gallant troops also recovered several items including single barrel gun, motorcycles, drums and bags of millet and dead cattle that ran into Improvised Explosive Device (IED) buried by the Boko Haram terrorists.”
Usman also disclosed that the troops detonated an IED in one of the buildings at Yasori 1.
“It was equally discovered that prior to the clearance, the terrorists have also been frequenting Borgozo general area which they used as harbour and staging area when conducting their nefarious activities,” he stated .