Nigeria seeks sanctions against erring peacekeepers

Nigeria has condemned acts of crime by UN officials saying, it continues to advocate that officials found culpable of such acts be held accountable.

Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, stated this while presenting Nigeria’s statement on ‘Criminal Accountability of the United Nations Officials and experts on Mission at the UN headquarters in New York.

Bande said: “We strongly believe that UN Officials and Experts on Mission abroad are entrusted with the flag of the United Nations which they are obliged to uphold with a sense of duty and responsibility.

“Nigeria is engaged in sensitisation visits to Missions abroad with special teams that interact with, and sensitise its troops to the consequences, implications and impacts that any untoward actions could have, not just on themselves and their families, but on the society, as well as the United Nations and Nigeria.

“We encourage more targeted orientation and awareness campaigns for officers on the risks of irresponsible behaviour and the United Nations’ zero tolerance for such acts of indiscretion.”

Bande said Nigeria commended the zero-tolerance policy of the UN concerning criminal conduct, especially sexual exploitation and abuse, committed by UN personnel and Experts on Mission.

He added that Nigeria supported the current procedure that allowed the Police to exercise authority over its erring nationals on UN Missions.

“My delegation also supports the idea to refer cases of alleged criminal conduct to the states of nationality of the official or expert on mission concerned, for investigation and possible prosecution, and urge states to report to the organisation on steps taken thereafter.

“It is on record that Nigeria has taken appropriate legal actions against one of its officials alleged to have committed a crime while serving as UN personnel on Mission.

“My delegation encourages states to take necessary steps to prosecute their nationals for any offence committed while on mission, if necessary by adapting their national legislation to guarantee that the jurisdiction would be exercised.”

Bande also said the Nigerian government had embarked on the provision of recreational activities for Nigerian peacekeepers at missions abroad to boost their morale.

He said the Government of Nigeria had also approved a proposal for granting regular leaves and passes for Nigerian peacekeepers to enable them to visit their families.

The Nigerian envoy said that victims of sexual exploitation and abuse should not be stigmatized, rather, they should be rehabilitated.

Bande said: “The Nigerian government has made contributions to the United Nations Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Victims Compensation Fund, urging other member states to do same.

“In conclusion, Nigeria continues to advocate that officers should be rewarded for exemplary behaviour to encourage others while bad behaviour should be punished without hesitation.

“We should at all times be mindful of how ordinary people around the world are impacted positively by the work that UN Peacekeepers do.

“We must therefore work harder to ensure that no one is allowed to tarnish that,” the envoy advised. (NAN)

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