*Canvasses Constitutional Reforms to Make Governors Chief Security Officers;
Vexed that the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Attahiru Ibrahim has done nothing concrete and transparent to stop the extra judicial executions of young Imo citizens on the streets of Imo State, the Civil Rights campaigners: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has written to the Army Chief to warn him of possibility of suing him before the International Criminal Court, in the Hague Netherlands if the trend continues.
Besides, the Right group has asked the governors of the 36 States to lobby the National Assembly to amend relevant sections of the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists and the sections on creation of the Nigerian Police Force to empower governors of the states to exercise full responsibility for adopting proactive measures including deployment of Armed State Police to wade off attacks threatening the peace of the State. The Rights group said the best way to effectively protect States is when the state houses of Assembly are unambiguously empowered to create state based Armed vigilantes that will partner with national security institutions.
HURIWA said the affirmation by the acting Inspector General of Police that restoring the Police to be at the primacy of Internal Security, will remain a pipe dream as long as the laws are not reformed to practically empower Chief executive of States and their State assemblies to have roles in securing their Jurisdictions.
HURIWA noted thus: “The Acting IGP Usman Alkali Baba IGP, during the handing-over ceremony at the Force headquarters in Abuja said: “the task of restoring the primacy of the Nigeria police in the internal security architecture of the country is the main challenge ahead of us. “It is, however, a task that I am convinced we can surmount if we resolve as a people to partner and present a common front against the subversive and criminal elements who are the common enemies of our nation. These lofty aspirations will remain a pipe dreams if governors have no power to arm their people for self defence.”
HURIWA in the statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, disclosed that it has told the Chief of Army Staff to immediately put measures in place to arrest and court Marshall all operatives implicated in the ongoing reckless deployment of weapons against civilians in Imo state. In the letter dated 4th May, HURIWA told the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) thus:
We write you this letter with the highest respect and it is our wishes that you succeed in your onerous task to govern the largest Army in Africa.
This is to bring to your notice officially of the happenings in Imo State, South East of Nigeria in connection with the large presence of operatives of the Nigerian Army on an Internal Security Operation.
We observe with serious concern that the operatives of the Nigerian Army sent on Internal Operation have been implicated in several illegal acts in violation of the RULES OF ENGAGEMENT to an extent that last week, we were forced to issue a media statement on these extra-legal killings of young citizens of Nigeria in Imo State by the operatives of the Nigerian Army that your good offices sent on an Internal military operation.
Sadly, we hereby confirm to you that the situation has deteriorated.
Individuals are arbitrarily arrested, harassed, physically maltreated and on some occasions some young persons have been killed by the operatives of the Army and this is the essence of doing this letter to your good self and offices to remind you of your constitutional duty to ensure that citizens are not illegally killed which offends section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution. That section specifies as follows:
“Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.”
We will endeavour to point out some of these cases including the dozens of reports we have received from persons whose fundamental rights as citizens guaranteed by chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, are abused with reckless abandon by your men.
Suffice it to say that we have on many occasions condemned any sorts of attacks by the yet to be known attackers targeting the military and Police operatives. As a credible civil society stakeholder in the Country, we are working to promote greater dialogues between military and the civilians for the betterment of the society.
However, there is no justification under the law including International Laws that we will be citing shortly, for the brazen and criminal acts of extra legal killings of civilians by Military Operation in Imo State. The Army can not be allowed to turn their military operation into a killing field.
Legally Speaking, the Nigerian Armed Forces when deployed for either internal or external operations, are bound by the laws of war and international law in the conduct of the operations.
The laws regulate and limit the conduct of operations by acting as checks against arbitrary use of force. They are intended to minimize unnecessary suffering by combatants and non-combatants during war.
The laws of war and international law are therefore sources of military law in Nigeria and include the following: a. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949.
b. The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
c. Multilateral and bilateral agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory and have bearing on military Service or operations.
d. The decisions of: (1) The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.
(2) Ad hoc war crimes tribunals set up by or with the backing of the UN Security Council.
(3) The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.
Also, the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims are as follows: a. Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. b. Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea.
c. Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of war; d. Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of
Kindly note that the two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are to supplement the 1949 Geneva Conventions and modernize the laws of war.
Protocol Ideals with the laws of war in international armed conflicts while Protocol 2 addresses the laws of war applicable in internal armed conflicts.29
It is noteworthy that the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols of 1977 have been formally given effect in Nigeria by the enactment of the Geneva Conventions Act Cap G3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.30 In sum, the Conventions and Protocols which are now an Act of the National Assembly, elaborately spell out the laws of armed conflicts on the use of force and the legal implication of disregarding rules regulating the means and methods of warfare, among other things.31 Specifically, section 3 of the Act provides.” (Military Law in Nigeria Under Democratic Rule by Brigadier General T. E. C. Chiefe (Rtd) Ph.d).
Sadly, on April 27th 2021 it was widely reported that there was panic in Owerri, the Imo state capital, as soldiers allegedly shot and killed a student of the Imo State University, Owerri, near the Douglas House, the seat of Government, Daily Trust reports. The victim was identified as Divine Nwaneri, a 25-year-old 100 level student of Soil Science and Biotechnology.
She was allegedly shot dead by the soldiers on guard duty around the Owerri Custodial Centre and the adjacent Imo Government House.
The incident occurred in the face of the heightened tension as hoodlums continue to overrun the state, especially the state capital. The President of the Student Union Government of IMSU, Arinze Oguike, disclosed that the students were saddened by the way the military allegedly killed the undergraduate.
It was gathered that she was shot dead by the soldiers, while driving in Lexus IS 250 with number plate, Lagos KSF 407 GT, with her friends.
A source said the deceased was being driven in the car around 10 pm when the soldiers opened fire on them and shot her and the male driver.
They were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, where the IMSU undergraduate was confirmed dead while the driver survived.
The Student Union Government, in its reaction, has demanded justice for the slain undergraduate.
When contacted, the IMSU Public Relations Officer, Ralph Obinjoku, confirmed the incident, saying the university community was saddened by the loss of the undergraduate.
The Army Public Relations Officer of 34 artillery brigade, Obinze, Owerri, Capitan Babatunde Zubairu, said that he had not been contacted. Sir, this is not the way to encourage civil military relations when innocent youths are wasted by armed troops paid and maintained with tax payer’s fund. This must be checked.
Also note that there is also a report that a businessman Noel Chigbu was shot dead at a military checkpoint in Owerri, the Imo State capital. This was on May 3rd 2021.
Chigbu, 39, was allegedly killed by soldiers manning the Amakohia Flyover checkpoint about 10pm on Friday, The Nation learned.
He was returning home when the incident happened.
His eldest brother Tobechi told journalists on Monday that Noel, who operated a Shawarma shop, was killed after dropping off his friend.
Tobechi quoted an unnamed Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state as saying that the soldiers claimed Noel was shot because he “violated their checkpoint rule.”
“His body was dumped at the FMC [Federal Medical Centre] in Owerri by the soldiers who killed him. The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations told us that the military men who brought his car to the command headquarters said that they killed him for violating their checkpoint rule,” Tobechi said.
Sir, as you know, these acts constitute crimes against humanity for which the offenders must be arrested and prosecuted of these offences against the laws and sanctioned in the strongest possible way because Nigeria is not a Banana Republic but a Nation governed by law and everyone in Nigeria is subject to the due process of the law. No one is above the law. Globally, there are mechanisms for punishing such mass killers and soldiers guilty of carrying out extra-legal killings of citizens if they are not prosecuted internally. This is why we have approached your good offices.
We pray that you immediately order the arrest and prosecution of those Army operatives so described so that they are subjected to the due process of the law internally. Failure to so subject these alleged killers to the due process of the law will leave us with no option but to approach the International Criminal Court in The Hague Netherlands to demand that the offenders and the head of the Nigerian Army be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.