By Musa Umar Bologi
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has said that observance of human rights by troops is fundamental in fighting insurgency and terrorism in the country.
The army chief said this in his message in the occasion of the International Human Right Day celebration.
The international community observes Human Rights Day every year on 10th December.
He said: “On this occasion of the 2017 International Human Rights Day, the Nigerian Army affirms its commitment to the protection and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“This year’s human rights day is being commemorated at time when the Nigerian Army is being increasingly called upon to intervene in a number of security challenges facing Nigeria. Notable in this regard are the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the North East, Nigeria.
“Our rules of engagement and code of conduct affirms human rights as core values making them central to our work. We are committed to adopting measures that ensure respect for human rights as the fundamental basis of our Civil Military relationship.
“Some of these measures include our active participation in the Nigerian Military Human Rights Dialogue, an initiative of the National Human Rights Commission aimed at facilitating a non-adversarial resolution of complaints that may arise from our footprints in our areas of operation. This initiative also includes support for continuous human rights awareness and education of our officers and men.
“We have also developed strong partnerships with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Red Cross and Crescent as well as Nigerian Bar Association and a number of human rights non-governmental organizations in Nigeria. In an effort to sustain these initiatives, we established a Nigerian Army Human Rights office.
“The need for the establishment of a specialised Human Rights office is largely as a result of the increasing interest of local and international human rights organisations and institutions in the Nigerian Army’s Human Rights footprints in general, but specifically in areas of ongoing military operations. The nature of inquiries and commentaries from these institutions is such that requires a response of a professional and specialised nature by the Nigerian Army.
“The human and economic cost of these acts of terrorism and insurgency has been felt in virtually every corner of Nigeria. The Nigerian Army has itself suffered tragic human loss as a result of violent terrorists’ acts.
“Terrorism clearly has a very real and direct impact on human rights, with devastating consequences for the enjoyment of the right to life, liberty and physical integrity of victims. In addition to individual costs, these acts of terrorism jeopardized peace and security in a number of states and threaten social and economic development. All of these also have a real impact on the enjoyment of human rights.”
He said the Nigerian Army embraced the idea and the message behind the International Human Rights Day and “will continue to do our part to spread awareness and support for human rights today and every day.”