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Killing of civilians shows army is unprofessional – HURIWA

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The alleged brutality and cruel treatment of an assistant director with the command secondary school in Lagos, a civilian, by two soldiers caught on camera, is just one amongst the growing incidents of indiscipline and lack of adherence to professional excellence by soldiers in Nigeria.

The Rights group stated that actions are needed to be implemented imminently to rein in these bunch of lawless operatives hiding under their military uniforms to violate the human rights of citizens with impunity.

HURIWA said it is not enough that the chief of Defence Staff has made a media statement urging soldiers to respect the human rights of civilians, but what is needed is for transparency and accountability in cases of violations of these sacred human rights by military operatives.

Making the submission is the leading civil Rights Advocacy group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which blamed the unprecedented aggression against civilians by soldiers to the failure of leadership at the topmost echelons of the military institutions just as the Rights group has asked that the two soldiers be dismissed and handed over to the office of the Director of public prosecution in Lagos so they face prosecution for the gruesome murder of the civilian staff.

HURIWA said the military hierarchy over the last many years have shielded many soldiers and senior officers who committed outrageous atrocities against civilians just as the Rights group said the one-sided practice by the military hierarchy of sanctioning heavy- handedness of the operatives against innocent civilians as consequential retaliatory measures by soldiers in cases of the killing of soldiers by terrorists, has emboldened the ordinary military operatives to believe that they can do anything to civilians and get away with it.

“The truth is that discipline, professionalism, ethical codes of conduct in the military institutions in Nigeris have collapsed under the heavyweight of official indiscretion by military commanders and the top service chiefs. There is the urgent need for the Chief of Defence Staff General Christopher Gwobin Musa to take concrete steps to ensure that soldiers subscribe and adhere to the human rights provisions in chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, as amended”.

HURIWA submitted that “The Chief of Staff should as a matter of intentionality, compel commanders and GOCs all over the Nigeria to obtain clean copies of the Nigerian Constitution for all military operatives and teach the operatives about the sanctity of chapter 4 of the constitution including their duties, responsibilities and possible administrative and legal sanctions for deviations from the rules of engagement at all times. On no account should anyone be enlisted into the Army and the security forces if such persons are bereft of knowledge of the constitution and specifically the provisions on human rights and rule of law in their finger tips.”

HURIWA recalled that the civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence, on Tuesday, protested the alleged brutalisation of their colleagues by military personnel.

The protesters, who stopped vehicular movements into and out of the ministry building, alleged that their colleagues were being brutalised without regard for civil laws.

Addressing journalists, Didam Joe, the Chairman of the Joint Executive Council, the umbrella body of affiliate unions of civilian staff in the ministry, said the civilian staff in the defence ministry had been turned into an endangered species.

Joe said, “What led to this action is the incident that happened yesterday (Monday). The video of the incident trended. One of our assistant directors was brutalised by soldiers. Some months back, they killed one of our colleagues. Up till today, we have not seen any action. Also, last month a civilian staff was locked in the guard room. It was because we involved the permanent secretary that he was released. We are an endangered species in the Ministry of Defence.

HURIWA endorsed totally the protest by these endangered civilian staff and we are asking the Chief of Defence Staff and the military chiefs in Navy, Army and Air force to take steps to stop these disastrous conducts of the military operatives vis-a-vis the relationship between civilian and military staff of the Defence ministry and military headquarters.

The Rights group in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko noted that although the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Taoreed Lagbaja, a lieutenant general, has ordered an immediate investigation into the alleged killing of a civilian staff by some private soldiers in Command Secondary School, Iyana Ipaja, there is the need for National Assembly through their committees on defence or national security to oversee the disciplinary processes and make sure that the indicted soldiers are dismissed and then prosecuted in the regular courts for murder.

HURIWA asked civil Rights Advocacy groups based in Lagos to watch and monitor closely this case to constantly demand that action is taken to punish the murderers in military uniform who tortured the assistant director in the Command secondary school leading to his eventual death.

The Chief of Defence Staff should be told that the World is watching them to see how this case would be treated since there is fear by the civilian staff that many such cases in the past were swept under the carpets. “We are cautioning the military hierarchy that permitting impunity in the administration of this all important military institution, will lead to further and more devastating collapse of professionalism and discipline just as the Rights group maintained that any military institution that lack professionalism and discipline, is not so different from terrorists.”

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