Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, yesterday called on the Amnesty International (AI) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to leave the Nigerian military alone over alleged incidents of human rights abuses.
Ndume made this assertion while answering questions from reporters in Abuja on allegations of human rights abuses against the Nigerian Military by AI and the ICC.
He urged the Nigerian troops to ignore what he termed as distraction by the two international organizations and concentrate on their task of fighting insurgency in the country.
Ndume said: “On the issue of unnecessary interference by Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court and other self-acclaimed celebrities and social media influencers who claimed to be patriotic Nigerians.
“We that have been living with these problems, and as leaders of the affected communities, know the feelings of our people.
“Right now, what the ICC is trying to do is destroying things instead of helping matters.
“You cannot cry more than the bereaved and they cannot be the prosecutor without the plaintiff. How can they prosecute without the plaintiff?
“We have the Nigerian government, the federal parliament and the nation’s judiciary. If there are human rights abuses, it is only when there is a failure on the part of the three arms of government to act swiftly that we can draw the attention of the international community to it.
“Nigerians are more concerned about securing their country. The Nigerian Army and the police are overwhelmed already.
“Honestly, we will stand up against that. We are not encouraging human rights abuses, we can’t say there are no such things but they are definitely, isolated cases especially when the Boko Haram insurgency reached its peak in 2014.
“There was a kind of confusion that led to the isolated cases of human rights abuses by the Nigerian Army and some of the armed forces.
“However, we stood up against it that time and that led to some soldiers’ court martialed for human rights abuses. Some were even dismissed from the Army.
“For example, for involving in rape cases. It is not that the Nigerian Army is not doing anything about it.
“There is a department known as civil-military relations, created by the Nigerian Army to address such cases and they are doing well.
“The power of investigation lies with the National Assembly. Nigerians know where they would report cases of human rights abuses to in case it happens anywhere.
@Let the Amnesty International and others leave us alone. These are the same international organisations that refused to give us support needed to fight the insurgency.
“The same international organisations also refused to refer to Boko Haram as a terrorist organization but rather prefer to refer to the insurgents as non m-state actors.
“I don’t know what they mean by that. As a parliament and as the representatives of our people, we won’t tolerate that.
“Our troops should ignore such things and concentrate on securing our country. If the international agencies want to help us, they should provide sophisticated equipment to address the issue.
“As the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army is thinking of bringing a motion to the floor of the Senate to address this particular matter and write to the particular organization to leave us alone.
“Or if they want, let them tell us where human rights abuses exist in the country. They should stop distracting and threatening our gallant troops that have sacrificed their lives to defend the country.
“As representatives of the people, the Nigerian parliamentarians are solidly behind our military on this issue.”
He lauded the cooperation between the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Air Force that led to the success recorded against Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State recently.
He said: “I want to thank the Nigerian military especially the Army and the Air Force. My investigation reveals that were it not for the presence of the Air Force, the success recorded would not have been achieved.
“That is why I want to emphasis the need for cooperation between the Army and other armed forces to continue.
“I want them to also improve on their response to any alarm or alert from any member of the public.
“What happened that day was that a citizen of Askira called me around 5pm and also sent a text message to alert me of a large gathering of Boko Haram insurgents in about 10 trucks heading towards Askira.
“He urged me to do something urgently about it. I quickly forwarded the text message to the Chief of Army Staff and that of the Chief of Air Staff.
“The two of them responded quickly and assured me that they were monitoring the situation.
“There was a coordinated effort between the Air Force, from their base in Yola and there was reinforcement from the Brigade in Chibok.
“There is also another battalion that is operating in Adamawa. They converged to address the situation and they recorded a tremendous success because many of the insurgents were killed while arms and ammunition were recovered from them.
“The Army and the Air Force combined to pursue the insurgents until they neutralise them. If they continue like this, cases of incessant attacks by insurgents in that area will stop it.
“I also want to commend the civilian JTF and the vigilante groups because all of them worked together to record that success.”