• Commits to zero tolerance for human rights violations

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Nigerian military has listed lack of Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) equipment, insufficiency of accurate actionable intelligence, impropriety in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) activities and lack of community resilience on the part of the locals as major impediments to the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east.
The Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Rogers Nicholas, gave the charge when the participants of the Course 2, Army War College paid him a courtesy visit in Maiduguri.

Nicholas in a statement yesterday by the Deputy Director Public Relations, Theatre Command operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said there were few challenges despite the fact that the terrorists had been largely degraded.
He said on account of the operational strangulation of the insurgents by troops, the terrorists had callously resorted to save face by attacking vulnerable and soft targets with Person Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (PBIED) as well as burying IEDs on roads and tracks.
Nicholas identified the “challenges of the ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the north east theatre to include lack of Counter IED equipment, insufficiency of accurate actionable intelligence, impropriety in NGOs’ activities and lack of community resilience on the part of the locals.”

He however, noted that troops have mitigated several of the suicide bomb attacks.
But the Theatre Commander averred that with the passionate support and operational guidance of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Boko Haram insurgents have been greatly depleted and lack the capability to conduct any meaningful attack on troops’ location.
Receiving the participants at the Headquarters, Theatre Command, Nicholas expressed delight that the Army War College has introduced visit to the North East theatre of operations into its training curricular for the participant.

He however, charged the participants led by the institution’s Director of Education and team leader, Brig-Gen. Okpe Ali, to develop leadership capacity to enable them effectively manage human and other resources in future tasks and assignments.
He noted that participants’ tour of the operational theatre would enable them access first-hand information from military Field Commanders as well as from Commanders of other security agencies.

Earlier, Ali stated that the participants’ visit to the theatre of operation was in tandem with the mission of the Army War College to educate and train future leaders for the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.
The participants who had earlier visited troops’ location at Konduga in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno state, later received a lecture titled ‘Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in Nigeria: Inter agency Collaboration, the Operation Lafiya Dole Perspective’.

The participants, according to the Institution’s Course Sponsor, Brigadier General Akpan numbered 37, comprising 33 Officers of the Nigerian Army and one participant each from the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Road Safety Commission.

Ina related development, the Nigerian military has committed to zero tolerance to human rights violations by any of its personnel in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.

Nicholas made the assertion in Maiduguri, when he received a Senior Human Rights Adviser from the Office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations System in Nigeria, Dr. Martin Okey Ejidike

Nicholas reiterated that respect for human rights and protection of civilians by troops in the ongoing operations against the terrorists must be sacrosanct.

He pointed out that though the operations in the North east is asymmetrical in nature, there are mechanisms in place to guide troops’ conduct in their host communities, as well as, rules of engagement for the execution of their operational mandate.

He added that the hierarchy of the military has zero tolerance for violation of any of these provisions, hence the establishment of a standing Military Court Marshall to try erring personnel.

The Theatre Commander also disclosed that suspects are only arrested in the theatre when they are found to have participated directly in acts of terrorism or acted to aid and abet acts tantamount to terrorism.

He noted that the Boko Haram suspects in custody are under pending prosecution which he said, does not fall within the purview of the military. He called on the prosecuting agencies and the Nigerian Judicial system to expedite action on the trial of the suspects to sieve out those acquitted from the convicted.

Nicholas also revealed that Boko Haram suspects who voluntarily surrendered to troops and are still in custody are currently being processed for onward transfer to Operation Safe Corridor, where they will undergo deradicalisation and rehabilitation programme.

He assured the UN Adviser of unfettered access to the proceedings of the Military Court Martial in the theatre, when the court resumes.

Earlier, Ejidike said he was in the theatre to deliberate on pertinent issues bothering on Human Rights protection.

He stressed that it was crucial to meet with the Theatre Commander to acquaint the Theatre Command with the developments on the establishment of a UN Human Rights office in the theatre.

He added that the move was also aimed at ensuring that the conduct of ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the north east are consistent with human rights provisions in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Abdulmalik Baluma Biu, has called for more collaboration and synergy among security agencies.

Biu, in a statement yesterday by the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen. Texas, made the call during a visit to Heads of Security Agencies in Maiduguri, Borno State.

His first port of call was the Headquarters Nigeria Police Borno State Command where he was received by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Damian Chukwu.

He also pointed out that his visit was to acquaint himself with the police high command and to seek for robust synergy as well as cooperation between the Nigerian Army and the Police especially in the area of information sharing.

The GOC attributed successes recorded by the Division to the support and cooperation from security agencies and the good people of Borno State.

In the same vain, Biu at the Headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Borno State Command, commended the Corps for their supportive role in the fight against insurgency and charged them to be proactive and diligent in their duties.

The GOC also visited the Headquarters of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and was received by the Director, Mr. Kankia Suleiman Husseni who briefed him on the activities of the department.

Responding, Chukwu congratulated Biu on his recent appointment as the GOC 7 Division and commended him for the visit and assured him of his command continuous cooperation.

The state Commandant of the Corps, Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim in his response thanked the GOC for providing vital leadership, stressing that collaboration and synergy were required to dismantle any social vices in society.

In another development, the GOC has charged officers of the Division to respect rules of law and respect for human right while carrying out their constitutional roles.

He made this assertion, at the graduation ceremony of Inter-Agency Workshop for Focal Points of the Nigerian Army on protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) in Maiduguri.

Biu also called on them to make use of the opportunity provided by the training to acquaint themselves on skills that are helpful to contend with contemporary challenges in line with Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai vision for the Nigerian Army.

He emphasised that the training would also create awareness and build capacity among troops of the Division.