HURIWA PRAISES MILITARY FOR NOT KILLING BALLOT SNATCHERS; TASKS OFFICIALS ON REPORTED KILLINGS

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The HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)  is hereby sending a word of commendation to the hierarchy of the Nigerian Armed Forces for complying with global best practices by not succumbing to the temptations of the political times to shoot-on-sight suspected ballot box snatchers as was widely expected to happen following the opinion expressed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

We have reliably gathered evidence from all across the country that there was a commendable levels of compliance to the international principles obliging the military to adhere to the rules of engagement.

Recall that before  the Presidential pills, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, had urged Nigerians to support the Nigerian Army in its internal security operations during the polls.

HURIWA also tasked the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai to ensure that the internal mechanisms put in place to stop human rights violations by soldiers are effectively and efficiently activated to check abuses just as the group urged the Nigerian Army to maintain absolute neutrality during the elections.

The group had received assurances from the highest echelons of the Nigerian Defence Sector that operatives deployed for election related internal security operations have been instructed on the sanctity of complying with global best practices, rules of engagement and respect for human rights.

It added, “Officers and operatives of the military are abreast of the universally approved rules of engagement in internal security operations just as they have been trained on the far reaching implications of proven cases of extralegal execution of citizens including citizens who may be in conflict with the law.”

HURIWA also revealed exclusively that President Muhammadu Buhari has not expressly issued a directive for shoot-at-sight of suspected ballot box snatchers just as it disclosed that Military High Command informed it that on no occasion will any citizen be killed through extrajudicial means.

It said, “We have been informed from a dependable source embedded in the office of Mr. President that no such wide ranging presidential order whether in writing or orally has gone out from the President to the service Chiefs.”

HURIWA, however, cautioned that citizens must obey the law by conducting themselves lawfully since even section 33(1) which prohibits extralegal executions makes a provision for use of firearm should riotous situation arise, although the use of lethal weapon need not result in death.

It said, “Citizens must know that if ballot box snatching leads to breakdown of law and order, the security forces are permitted by the Constitution to resort to use of lethal weapons which in any case may inflict fatality as a consequence.”

In a media release issued by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and made available, HURIWA disclosed that it was given a handout of the extant Chief of Army Staff’s policy directive on Nigerian Army comprehensive programme to improve compliance with Domestic and International Laws guiding the conduct of operations.

It stated that “The green books which encompassed the aforementioned policy directives have since been circulated to all soldiers. Soldiers have also confirmed to us that they have the book always.”

HURIWA said that under the handbook which all operatives have since been given capacity building training, the military in Nigeria just like in other civilizations ought to ensure that:

“All personnel of the NA comply with domestic and international laws to which Nigeria is a state party.

“Unless otherwise directed by the Appropriate Superior Authority (ASA), NA personnel will comply with the principles and spirit of the International Human Rights Law (IHRL) during all Internal Security (IS) operations and other Military Assistance to Civil Authorities (MACA) operations and that the NA may be deployed to in accordance with Sections 217(2) a, b, c, d, and 218(3) of CFRN 1999 (as Amended).

“An effective programme to prevent violations and ensure compliance with domestic and international law is implemented by the NA at all levels of command.

“All incidents of violations of domestic and international laws committed by or against NA personnel, enemy, or any other individual are reported promptly, investigated thoroughly, and, where appropriate, remedied by corrective action.

“The on-scene commander shall ensure that measures are taken to preserve evidence of incidents pending transfer to ASA.

“At all appropriate levels of command and during all stages of operational planning and execution of operations, NA Legal Advisers provide advice concerning domestic and international law as it relates to operations.

“As must as possible, NA commanders are to use their appointment and provisions made by the military justice system and the AFA, to investigate and sanction violation of international laws which in certain cases are also offences against Nigerian Military Law.”

HURIWA, therefore, expressed optimism that the elections would be free, fair and peaceful just as it stated its readiness to monitor the conduct of soldiers and take action to redress any reported violations.”

HURIWA  had reminded soldiers that: “The soldier is part of the society and also a citizen. Being a soldier does not remove him from the society but puts on him a specially conjured status called compact. He enjoys all the rights of a citizen except those he surrenders by virtue of his being a soldier.”

“Upon acquisition of military status both civil and military law govern him. In support of this position. Takai submits that “the soldier by becoming a soldier does not relinquish his identity or status as citizen with the rights and obligations contained in the constitution. He remains subject both to the civil and military laws a situation described by some jurists as a compact.” This duality of status was aptly described in Grant v. Gould, where it was stated that a soldier does agree and consent that he shall be subject to the military discipline, and he cannot appeal to the civil courts to rescue him from his own compact.”

“The doctrine of compact was further explained by Justice Willes in Dawkins V. Lord Rokeby when he said “But with respect to persons who enter into the military state, who take His Majesty’s pay, and who consent to act under his commission, although they do not cease to be citizens in respect of responsibility, yet they do by a compact which is intelligible and which requires only the statement of it to the consideration of any one of common sense, become subject to military rule and discipline.”

However, we have resolved to dispatch today, a written report to the office of Chief of Arms staff to demand that all those soldiers reportedly found wanting and implicated in the alleged killing of the adhoc staff of INEC in Rivers state are identified and prosecuted. We also wish to use this opportunity to encourage the military authority to abide by the constitutional demands of respect of due process of the law by allowing the relevant law enforcement agency to fish out the alleged killers of a military officer on the line of deity in Rivers State. We plead with the Army not to repeat the Odi style of invasion of the said community in Rivers state in which the Army officer was gruesomely killed.

 We condemned all the killings of both civilian, police and Army and asked that the due process of the law be activated so as to bring all the culprits to justice.

On the election proper, we think it is shameful that clear 48 hours after the polls, INEC has yet to release the results even when the results are known to the parties from the polling units, local governments and state levels. This is despicable. We ask INEC not to cook up the figures but to present the correct figures tabulated from the points of election.

We call for the prosecution of the bandits in Lagos, Rivers and Bayelsa, who disrupted the polls and physically manhandled the Deputy Police Commissioner.

The reported arrest of the PDP chieftain Alhaji Buba Galadima by DSS is hereby condemned and we demand for his immediate release.

HURIWA recalled that Lieutenant Luka Ishaya Kurmi, in an encounter with hoodlums during election duty in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) Rivers State on Saturday was killed.

The late officer was set to wed a lady indentified as Alheri Ganya Bissa on Saturday, April 20th in Kebbi state.

The attack which it claimed was pre-planned occurred in between Charles and Bob-Manuel’s compounds in Abonnema Town at about 1:00am on the 23rd February 2019.

According to the Army, “The attackers barricaded a major road into the town and laid an ambush in the adjoining built-up areas from where they opened fire on our unsuspecting troops when they attempted to remove the barricade.”

The gallant troops fought their way through the siege and in the process killed six of the assailants. However, we lost a lieutenant in the encounter.

“Preliminary investigation indicated that one Roland Sekibo, the Chairman Akuku Toru LGA, Omodo – the CSO Akuku Toru LGA and Kenneth of Kula currently at large were the master minds of the unexpected/unprovoked attack.”

To this end, the NA strongly hereby states that perpetrators of this ambush will be made to face the full wrath of the law,” the Army spokesperson said in the statement. HURIWA encourages Nigerian Army to use the due process of law to resolve this outrage. 

Also recall that INEC’s adhoc staff, Mrs. Ibisiki Amachree, was killed by stray bullet in Rivers.

Mrs. Ibisika Amachree who served as an INEC adhoc staff during the elections in Rivers State, was killed by a stray bullet while returning home after the elections in Degema, she died before she could receive medical attention. This incident must be professionally investigated and anyone implicated must be made to face the wrath of the law. We ask the Nigerian government and INEC to pay N100 million compensation each to all the electorate and officials killed during the election because  INEC is vicariously liable.  

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko;

National Coordinator; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

Monday February 25th 2019.  

Text of a press conference. 

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