By Johnson Eyiangho
The Nigerian Army says it firmly believes that human rights are an essential component of its military operations.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, made the assertion on Sunday on the occasion of the 2017 International Human Rights Day.
The day is commemorated on Dec. 10 every year.
Buratai reaffirmed the commitment of the army to the protection and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedom.
He noted that the 2017 commemoration of the day came at a time when the army was being increasingly called upon to intervene in a number of security challenges facing Nigeria.
The army chief said that notable in this regard were the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram in the North East Zone.
“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 jeopardised peace and security in a number of states and threaten social and economic development,” he said.
Buratai said that the acts of the terrorists also have a real impact on the enjoyment of human rights.
He, however, said the army’s rule of engagement and code of conduct affirm human rights as core values making them central to its 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,” he said.
Buratai said that in the effort to sustain those initiatives, the army had established a Human Rights Office.
He explained that the need for the establishment of a specialized Human Rights Office was largely as a result of the increasing interest of local and international human rights organisations.
According to him, the nature of inquiries and commentaries from those institutions requires a professional and specialised response.
“The Nigerian Army embraces 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,” Buratai added. (NAN)