The Nigerian Army has restated its commitment to continue to safeguard the lives of women and children in the north eastern part of the country.
This was made known by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General TY Buratai, at a media parley with Guild of Editors and media influencers in Nigeria.
The event took place at the Command Guest House, Maiduguri on Saturday.
The Army boss further disclosed that the Army was partnering with the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, National Primary Health Care Development Agency and local NGOs in the north east in ensuring the safety of women and children in crisis-ridden areas.
Lt Gen Buratai reminded them that the army has also been doing its best in the discharge of its constitutional duties, respecting extant rules.
He blamed some Non-Governmental Organizations such as Amnesty International for consistently undermining their reputation and demoralizing troops through consistent and unfounded allegations of human rights abuses.
He said, “I want to emphasize that you play a vital role in security and national development. While we fight with guns to protect the society, you fight with your pens to do the same. Consequently, fighting without one another can be compared to fighting with one hand tied behind your back. That is why this interactive session is organized to fashion out ways of coming together to fight against the security challenges facing our dear country.
“We also invited you here with the best of intention, to commend you for the wonderful role you have been playing in nurturing our nascent democracy and also solicit your support in our efforts to rid our society of daunting security challenges. We also noted that most of the security problems we are confronted with in this country are associated with misinformation.
“Therefore, we have a great task of educating and enlightening the members of the public on the true situations, as the more enlightened a society is, the more it understands its roles and contributes positively towards an enhanced national security and development.
“We are therefore appealing to you to be more understanding in the discharge of your professional duties. Your support is highly required because of the immense role you play in shaping national focus and thus, national security.
“We want you to trust us more as we continue to defend the territorial integrity of our country. It does not augur well for national security and troops’ morale when the military is portrayed as weak and corrupt, not trusted or respected as was the case with the recent unfortunate attacks on our locations and the lopsided reports on them.
“The war against terrorism and insurgency need to be viewed and reported as it is; war between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and terrorists and criminals, not Nigerian Army versus the Boko Haram terrorists. We are carrying out these operations on behalf of the Nigerian State and the people. Therefore, we should enlighten the people to enable them understand, support our efforts and appreciate our sacrifices.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Nigerian Army, like every other human system or institution, is not, and cannot be perfect. Indeed, there were instances of observed gaps. For instance, when I took over command, I realized the need for an enhanced civil-military relations, hence our concerted efforts at strengthening the Department of Civil-Military Affairs through the establishment of Human Rights desk.
“We have also improved on our military justice system and do not spare any officer or soldier found culpable of human rights abuses and other offenses. I have ordered the constitution of General Court Martial to try various acts of indiscipline and other offenses at Operation LAFIYA DOLE, 2 Division, 81 Division, 82 Division and Army Headquarters Garrison. We have also created new formations and training institutions to enhance operational capacity and professional efficiency.
“These include the establishment of 6 and 8 Divisions of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Army Special Forces Command, 16 and 17 Brigades of the Nigerian Army, Cyberwarfare Command and the Nigerian Army Special Forces School, amongst others.
“The world over, no Army has all its required resources; nonetheless, we are doing all we could to give the best of service to our combatants. The Nigerian Army under my leadership has made giant strides in the area of discharging our constitutional duties. My Command of the Nigerian Army is doing everything possible to ensure better welfare for the soldiers.
“We have constructed and renovated so many living and office accommodations for both officers and soldiers across the country and more is being done. We have also upgraded and rehabilitated various Nigerian Army Medical Services and Hospitals, created Barracks Investments Initiative Programme that also caters for the welfare of troops’ families.
“In the Nigerian Army nobody tampers with pay and allowances of any officer or soldier. And wherever there are proven cases of deviation from our rules of engagement or laws, appropriate disciplinary measures were always taken against such erring personnel.
“However, we have noticed that there are consistent unjustified attacks against the Nigerian Army over troops’ welfare, particularly on pay and allowances, as well as allegations on human rights abuses. The allegations are rather unfortunate as they are not done in good faith and were mostly based on ignorance.
“At this juncture, I must clearly say that nobody loves Nigeria more than we do; therefore, we have been doing our best in the discharge of our constitutional duties, respecting extant rules. It is therefore preposterous for Non-Governmental Organizations such as Amnesty International to consistently be undermining our reputation and demoralizing our troops through consistent and unfounded allegations of human rights abuses. There is no doubt the organization cannot do what it is doing in Nigeria in many other sovereign countries.”