HURIWA To Army Chief – Call Rogue Army Operatives In Igboland To Order

Spread the love

Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has strongly deplored the attitudes of the Nigeria Army High command to the frequent incidents of unprovoked violent attacks of communities in the South East of Nigeria by the security operatives carrying out internal security operation.

HURIWA regretted that the clearly stated Rules of Engagement for internal security operations are not been complied with by substantial number of soldiers in the South East of Nigeria.

The Rights group said it was deplorable that military authority is denying the alleged Christmas eve invasion of Akpawfu Community in Nkanu East Local Government of Enugu by security agents believed to be soldiers which threw the community into tension and fear.

HURIWA said the soldiers, according to the natives, stormed the community at about midnight on Friday and allegedly raided Agudene village, shooting sporadically and forcing the villagers to scamper for safety just as this would be about the second time Akpawfu community was being invaded by soldiers this year, causing the people to flee their homes.

The Rights group wondered how the Army is denying such an operation by their operatives which the villagers and the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Christopher Nnamani alleged that the invasion was by soldiers who they claimed were still in their village as at Christmas morning.

The media quoted the Spokesman of 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu, Abubakar Abdullahi as saying that he has no brief of any such operation in the said community.

“In the light of this apparent pretension by the military authority in Enugu about this incident, we are of the view that this criminal pattern of sending out rogue military operatives to communities in the South East to harass and drive away citizens from their homes amounted to a gross violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Engagement for internal security operations by the Nigeria Army”.

“The Chief of Army Staff must call his officers and men to order. How can the Enugu division of the Army pretend not to be aware of such a big operation that lasted many hours whereas some villagers who pleaded anonymity due to fear told newsmen that their people had ran away from the village for safety”.

HURIWA stated that: “One of them who spoke with the media said as follows: “This is happening in my own village, Agudene Akpawfu. We don’t know what we have done to these people. One of the boys they went to his house was brutally beaten up, we are not sure if he will survive it. They are still here up to this morning. As I speak to you I am in hiding. People have run away for fear of their lives.”

HURIWA also disclosed that the media quoted the traditional ruler of Akpawfu Community, Igwe Nnamani as informing newsmen that he had reported the raid to the Divisional Police Officer in the area and he promised to get back to him.

The Traditional ruler according to HURIWA had disclosed that some villagers have already been reported missing, adding that he had sent people to the village to get a clearer picture of what was happening even as the traditional ruler stated thus: “The situation is not very clear yet and my house is far from Agudene. I have sent my people there and will be in a better position to talk if you can call or come to my palace in the evening.”

In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National director of media Miss Zainab Yusuf stated that HURIWA is running out of patience with the hierarchy of the Nigeria Army and may be compelled to take other legitimate steps such as either staging peaceful protests to Embassies of global leading nations in Nigeria or send a compilation of reports of use of extrajudicial executions of innocent citizens by soldiers to the International Criminal Court ICC in The Hague Netherlands and specifically petitioning President Muhammadu Buhari and the service chiefs including Police heads in Nigeria and Imo State so they are prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

HURIWA accused the Army of violating the Nigerian Armed Forces Rules of Engagement (ROE), and Code of Conduct which are enshrined in Section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution and Section (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004 provide code of conduct and rules of engagement for the armed forces in internal security.

The Rights group said the Rules are to the effect that, no officer or soldier must be found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct; and troops are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they are deployed.

Specifically, Section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that Nigeria’s armed forces shall suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, Commander-in-Chief reinforced by Sect (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004, it stressed that this presupposes that troops have to use necessary force to quell crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damages to properties.

The Rights group affirmed categorically that salient highlights of the ROE include:

“The principle of minimum force and proportionality must be applied at all times; whenever operational situation permits, every reasonable effort shall be made to control the situation through measures short of using force, including personal contact and negotiations; the use of lethal force shall only be resorted to if all other means to control the situation have failed or in case of unexpected attack or suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack during which a delay could lead to loss of life or serious injury to personnel; and that any force applied must be limited in its intensity and duration; it must also be commensurate with the level of threat posed.”

Besides, the rule says: “Force shall be used only when absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate aim; the decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commander, unless there is insufficient time to obtain such order. Fire can however be opened if the life of a soldier, any law-abiding member of the public and/or property of which it is our duty to protect is in grave danger; fire must be aimed and controlled. Indiscriminate firing is not permitted.”

Also the rule of engagement says: “Fire may be opened to forcefully stop any vehicle that fails to stop at a checkpoint or road block when ordered to stop for search; automatic fire will only be opened as a last resort; avoid collateral damage; after fire has ceased, render medical assistance and record details of incident both in writing and using audio/visual equipment whether or not casualty has been recorded; and whenever in doubt, seek clarification from higher headquarters.”

HURIWA accused the military of arbitrary use of brute force and for recklessly adopting the technique of extra legal killings of civilians as its crude tactics in the internal security operation that is currently happening in the South East of Nigeria for which the Rights group is cautioning the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya to check the excesses of application of force by his operatives against the people of South East of Nigeria because nobody is above the law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *