The Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) will continue to be committed to the protection of rights of Nigerian citizens and all law abiding memnrrs of the public during operations as enshrined in the Country’s constitution, International Humanitarian Law and Laws of Armed Conflict.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin made this assertion while inaugurating the Committee on production of Rules of Engagement (ROE) for the Armed Forces of Nigeria at the Defence Headquarters Abuja.
Represented by the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans (CDPP), Air Vice Marshall Nurudeen Balogun, the CDS noted that the AFN “must carry out its constitutionally assigned tasks to the best of its ability and training with the mindset that the fundamental human rights of citizens are sacrosanct”. The Defence Chief averred that the inauguration of the Rules of Engagement Committee was a step further for the Armed Forces to holistically review its existing Rules of Engagements and trainings to ensure they conform with International best practices during military operations.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of Defence Training and Operations (CDTOPS) Major General Lucky Irabor said the inauguration of the Committee is a pointer to the untiring effort of the CDS towards producing a comprehensive Rules of Engagement Manual. “so what we intend to do is to look at the existing Rules vis-à-vis different operations with a view to producing a blueprint fit for all operations and exercises”, he clarified .
In the same vein, the Deputy Head of Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Mr Jean François Queguiner in his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, commended the AFN for the step taken in harmonising and producing a comprehensive Rule of Engagement, which he noted would help foreclose any speculation about the existence or accuracy of the current ROE being applied by the AFN during operations.
Mr Queguiner further assured of ICRC’s cooperation towards ensuring the production of a comprehensive Rule of Engagement Manual for the AFN, describing the task of the Committee as both sensitive and critical to the successes of military operations.
Similarly, in his remarks, Mr Benedict Agu who represented the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) noted that the inauguration of the Committee for production of Rules of Engagement for the AFN “is certainly a significant milestone in the relationship between the Commission and the Nigerian military in the continuing dialogue on striking a balance between military necessity and human rights protection during counter insurgency operations”.
Mr Agu further stated that the NHRC, as the guardian of human rights in Nigeria, would continue to collaborate with the AFN in ensuring the protection of human rights of the generality of citizens and other members of the public during operations in the country, revealing that past collaborations with the military yielded several positive results. He added that one of such collaborative effort is the advocacy for the adoption of the National Policy on Protection of Civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation being championed by the NHRC, the AFN and the Centre for Civilians in Conflict.
The twelve member Committee is presided by the Director of Campaign Planning at the Defence Headquarters, Major General Benjamin Ahanotu with members drawn from the Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, National Defence College, ICRC and NHRC.