The Nigerian Army, says strict observance of humanitarian and human rights laws will enhance the performance of troops in internal security and Peace Support Operations.
The Chief of Civil-Military Affairs (CCMA), Maj.-Gen. Nosakhare Ugbo stated this at a Lecture and Sensitization Workshop on Human Rights organised for troops of 1 Division Nigerian Army, on Tuesday in Kaduna.
Ugbo was represented by Brig.-Gen. Bola Keji, Director Psychological Warfare, Army Headquarters Department of Civil-Military Affairs.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the workshop was “Constitutional Responsibilities of the Nigerian Army Soldier, adherence to Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws”.
Ugbo said that the workshop was important as the Nigerian Army has been engaged in several operations across the country.
The CCMA said the Nigerian Army has a sacred obligation to ensure that its personnel perform their duties within the limits prescribed by laws, including the International Charter on Human Rights.
He therefore said charged the personnel to avoid actions that might have negative implications on the lives of law abiding citizens or their civil liberties.
“It is against this background that the Army Headquarters is conducting sensitization awareness to enable troops under the command, to perform their duties strictly in compliance with human rights and globally accepted standards.
“Additionally, the NA is currently conducting internal security operations across the country with other security agencies, therefore a high level of discipline and professionalism is required from each soldier at all levels.”
Ugbo said there were certain fundamental rights that are inalienable, which must be respected by troops in the course of any operation.
“Some of these rights include: right to life, right to dignity of human persons, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing.
“Right to private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and right to freedom of expression and press, to mention but a few.
“I urge you all to open your minds and ask questions as well as contribute immensely to the body of knowledge that will guide us in the discharge of our duties,” Ugbo told the participants.
He listed some of International laws and conventions Nigeria was signatory to as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, among others.
The CCMA reminded the participants that the philosophy of the Chief of Army Staff was to transform the NA into a well-trained, equipped and highly motivated force, to carry out its constitutional responsibilities efficiently within a joint environment.
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Maj.-Gen. Valentine Okoro said that the division had placed high premium on training, to keep the personnel abreast of international best practices in the discharge of their duties.
The GOC, represented by the division’s Chief of Staff, Brig.-Gen. Moses Gara, said knowledge of humanitarian and human rights laws was important in guiding any operation conducted by troops.
“That is why participants are drawn from various units and formations under the command of Headquarters 1 Division.
“It is believed that the most effective way to keep troops informed and updated is by engaging them in a forum like this.
“Considering the significance of topics selected under humanitarian laws in guiding the conduct of troops in an armed conflicts situation, our expectations from this training is very high.
“It is hoped that the participants will make good use of this opportunity to broaden their understanding of the topics,” he said.
The GOC appreciated the resource persons drawn from Army headquarters and department of civil military affairs and their leadership, for choosing 1 Division to conduct the workshop.
He urged the participants to use the knowledge acquired in educating others in their formations and units.
NAN reports that lectures were presented on ‘Understanding the application of rules during military operations’; Constitutional responsibilities of Nigerian soldiers through adherence to humanitarian and human rights laws’, among others.(NAN)