National Security

Nigeria In Urgent Need Of Demilitarization As Army Treats 500 Human Rights Violation Cases

Chief of Civil Military Affairs in the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. Markus Kangye, said his department has received and treated more than 500 complaints of human rights violations since 2016. This is a tip of the iceberg, but, however, it underscores the urgent need to end the decades old militarization of the country.

Lt. Gen. Kangye who disclosed this during the first quarter Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) media chat on Tuesday in Abuja, added that appropriate sanctions were applied where necessary.

The general said the formation of the Civil-Military Legal Desk (CMLD) in February 2016 to address alleged human rights violations by troops during internal security and counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations was a milestone.

General Kangye said the desk is a cell under this department that receives and facilitates investigations of alleged human rights violations against military personnel and recommends appropriate sanctions.

He added that the desk was established at the various divisions to address similar issues in their respective areas of responsibility, adding that plans were being made to establish same at unit level.

Gen. Kangye stated that all the complaints received were investigated, adding that some of the complaints were found credible while some were not.

“This underscores the premium the COAS places on human rights issues.

“In order to drive this policy, 24-hour call centre, with designated short code, 193, was established on May 30, 2017 to receive emergency calls.

“Since inception, the desk has received over 500 complaints which were treated and appropriate sanctions applied where necessary.

“Thus, available statistics show that there has been a drastic reduction in litigation cases involving Nigerian army personnel in recent times.

“This could be attributed to the constant sensitisation workshops to human rights conducted across the divisions and formations coupled with the impact of the desk’s sanctions on offenders,” he said.

He said the media chat was organised in line with army’s drive toward keeping the media informed of its CIMIC and Civil-Military Relations (CMR) activities.

He said it was a means of eliminating rumours as well as providing accurate and timely information in line with international best practices.

According to him, the forum presents an avenue for the department to engage with various media practitioners for a better understanding.

He said it was with a view to charting a mutually benefitting relationship to improve media reportage and the non-kinetic lines of army operations.

He said it reinforced the COAS’ vision of having “a Professional Nigerian Army Ready to Accomplish Assigned Missions within a Joint Environment in Defence of Nigeria”.

Brig.-Gen. Ojogbane Adegbe, the Director, Psychological Operations, Department of Civil Military Affairs, said the combination of kinetic and non-kinetic operations in addressing security challenges was in line with international best practices.

Adegbe said the department had achieved milestone in the non-kinetic approach through various intervention programmes for communities in places where there were military operations across the country.

He said that the department had constructed or renovated a number of classrooms and hospitals in different communities toward winning the hearts and minds of the civil populace.

Adegbe added that social media seminars were being organised for social media influencers and bloggers across the country to counter fake news and wrong narratives about military operations in public space.

He said that cyberspace dimension was added to warfare operations adding that there was need to play active in secondary cyberspace.

According to him, the conduct of the seminar has so far created unique and valuable platform for army to interact with social media practitioners and influencers in support of its operations.

A former army spokesperson, retired Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, said there was need for constructive engagement between the military and the media to ensure cordial relationship.

Usman, who delivered a paper titled “Media Operations in Contemporary Warfare: Operation Hadin Kai in perspective”, said the military needed the media to succeed in its operations.

He also urged military spokespersons to be proactive in their media engagements to avoid giving room for speculations adding that information was an essential requirement of journalism profession.

He said that military spokespersons should know that timely, accurate and valid information were what the media required to function effectively.

He also urged newsmen to also strive to do their job without jeopardising military operations as reporting a planned operation could jeopardise such operation.

“So the suspicion against the media is not out of place because they tend to report sensationally and unprofessionally.

“Of course, there are several instances where the media usually are also guilty by jeopardising the military operations, compromising national security and even the lives of troops and citizens,” he said.

Usman, however, urged the military and the media to work together as partners in progress toward tackling the security challenges bedeviling the country.