In A Letter, HURIWA Laments Decline Of Human Rights Respect By Nigerian Army

Lamenting that his immediate predecessor who spent only few months before the cold hands of death snatched him away regrettably, did not prioritize respect for Human Rights of Civilians in Internal Military operations,  a call has gone to the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff General Farouk Yahaya to ensure compliance to rules of engagement and Human Rights by his men and officers.

In a letter of solidarity to the New Chief of Army Staff Major General Farouk Yahaya, the Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) applauded the Human Rights milestones achieved by Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai especially the aggressive funding of the Human Rights desk and the department for civil and military relations and encouraged the current holder of the High office of Army Chief of Staff to take respect for Human Rights of Civilians as the corner stone of his policies and operations.

HURIWA in the letter of Solidarity dated June 7th, 2021, signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko reminded the Chief of Army Staff that he played pivotal role during the phenomenal tenure of General Buratai as Army Chief just as the Rights group expressed optimism that the Army Chief will not marginalize the Human Rights desks of Nigerian Army and the department for Civil Military Relations so as to deepen mutual dialogues and mainstream respect for Human Rights.

“The reason for writing you this letter is to encourage your good offices not to relent in mainstreaming the respect of the fundamental human Rights of Nigerians in all internal military operations.”

“We will conclude by thematically providing specific details on the strategic benefits of respecting Human Rights by your operatives and officers. But first, we are writing to inform you that millions of Nigerians are beginning to perceive that the Army authority has abandoned the department for Civil and Military relations soon after Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai left as the Chief of Army Staff.”

“We recall vividly that your good self once worked as the Army Secretary under the auspices of the then Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Buratai, under whose administration the department for Civil and Military relations came alive and did wonderful things to bridge the gaps between Soldiers and civilians”, HURIWA asserted.

The Rights group therefore affirmed thus: “We therefore write this letter in good faith with the underlying expectation that your leadership will not totally abandon the department for Civil and Military Relations but will endeavor to expand the frontiers of the duties of the Human Rights desks within the Army.”
“Lastly, we appeal to you to compel your operatives in the South East of Nigeria to abide by the Rules of engagement and respect the Constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights of citizens which are inviolable, sacrosanct and Universal and without which Constitutional democracy is dead.”
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA maintained that chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution is applicable and binding even in a war situation just as the Rights group appealed to the Army Chief to “call your operatives to order. We will in due course, send to you our reports from the South East and we do hope that your good offices will activate Internal mechanisms to resolve all the Human Rights violations cases we will table before you soonest.”
“It is universal fact that 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.

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 Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of war.

d.   Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of
War”.
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 I deals with the laws of war in international armed conflicts while Protocol 2 addresses the laws of war applicable in internal armed conflicts.
It is nóteworthy 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. 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.” HURIWA concluded.

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