UNHCR, NHCR Urge Nigerian Military to Improve Human Rights Record

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Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHCR) have urged the Nigerian military to improve its human rights records, especially in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram in the North-east.

The Country Director of UNHCR, Mr Ceaser Tshilom, made this call Thursday at the flag off of a training session for Nigerian troops in Maiduguri on the protection of human rights.

Tshilom noted that the military are the first humanitarians in conflict situations and that “troops deployed in North-eastern Nigeria have done well in this regard”.

He however stressed that despite the progress being made, there is still room for improvement, “hence the need to train troops on human rights and civilian protection”.

The training, which is a recent partnership between the Armed Forces of Nigeria and NHCR to improve the mainstreaming of human rights and civilian protection into Counter Insurgency Operations in the North-east, is yielding positive results.

In the same vein, the Executive Secretary NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, stated that though the Nigerian military and other law enforcement agencies have performed exceedingly well in containing the insurgency, it is desirable to sustain the gains made.

Ojukwu said this can be attained by training military officers and other key security personnel who are directly involved in the counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations on human rights protection.

He recalled that the federal government deployed the military to conduct the operations in an effort to restore normalcy in the region at a time when the activities of the insurgents were devastating the North-eastern states in a large scale.

He enjoined the participants in the training to extend the knowledge acquired to their peers.

Also speaking, the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, assured the organisers that the current service chiefs of the Armed Forces of Nigeria established Human Rights Desks at all Services and Formation Headquarters to meet the dictates of global best practices.

Nicholas added that though the operations in the North-east theatre is a complex one, troops have remained highly professional in conducting their operations.

He expressed optimism that the training will further reposition officers, soldiers and other security agents in the theatre to competently protect the rights of civilians.

He urged the participants to imbibe the training and transfer the knowledge and skills acquired to their contemporaries.

The participants in the training were drawn from military formations and units, as well as other security agencies in the theatre of operation.