The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has implore the Human Rights community (HRC) to deploy equal measure of pressure it mounts on government forces dealing with terrorism and insurgency on Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ASWAP) fighters to compel them to drop their weapons and come to the negotiation table.
Irabor made this known at the opening ceremony of the 3-day training on African Commission Guidelines on Human Rights in Counter-Terrorism Operations organized by the Centre for Strategic Research and Studies of the National Defence College in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
He said that if the Human Rights crusaders take the campaign for the respect of the Human Rights provisions to the terror organizations, the conflict will be resolved faster with the attendant reduction in the carnage perpetrated against innocent citizens.
The CDS said “what I need to put forward to you and of course the rest other actors within the Human Rights system is that oftentimes you find out that greater attention is given to the government forces that are dealing with terrorism with little or very minimal attention being given to the adversaries, the Boko Haram and the ISWAP.
“I believe that the conflict can be easily resolved if or will be resolved faster than this if the same measure of pressure that is being brought on the government forces to respect Human Rights Commissions is brought on the adversaries to the extent that conflicts of such nature can be resolved, thereby reducing carnage that is being perpetrated against the innocent citizens, who in the first place are even ware of the contending issues that gave rise to the conflict.
He added that “On this area, I request you to do more work so that while we as the fourth forces continue to train and ensure that our forces come to terms with the legal provisions that attend to warfighting, the same has to be done for those who want to use violence as a means of resolving their grievances against the state.”
The Executive Director Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Aisha Osori, while responding said it is not the duty of the Human Rights groups to mount pressure on terrorists or force them to surrender.
According to her, “we don’t recognize terrorists and they also don’t recognize us and we can’t mount any pressure on them, that is why we are holding our Armed Forces to task to put an end to those who have taken up arms against the state, but in doing so we should not degenerate to the level of the terrorists by disrespecting Human Rights.”
“In Nigeria, there have been reports of excessive use of force by the military in operations across the country. With the Military deployed in 35 out of the 36 states of the Federation, the need for Human Rights training and re-training cannot be overstated.
“Nigeria will adopt counter-terrorism policies that reflect progressive respect for of Human Rights in counter-terrorism operations including the incorporation of principles and guidelines in its national counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism strategies, in its legal frameworks and rules of engagement and in counter-terrorism operations that are Human Rights compliant,” she added.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Anthony Ojukwu, advocated for intelligence-driven counter-terrorism operations that will shield innocent citizens from the carnage of war.
He further stressed the need of the Armed Forces to cultivate the friendship of the citizens to ensure robust intelligence gathering mechanism.