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Army chief faults military-civilian clashes, vows to protect citizens’ rights

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.As Troops neutralise 286 terrorists, arrest 244, rescue 122  – DHQ

 

Chidimma  Uchegbu – Abuja

 

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has frowned at the reports of disagreements between the military and civilians in some parts of the nation.

 

He then vowed to protect the rights of all citizens of the country.

 

Speaking at a one-day human rights seminar tagged, ‘Expounding the Human Rights Narrative in Contemporary Times: Impact on National Security,’ which was organised by the Nigerian Army in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, on Thursday, Lagbaja explained that some frictions were bound to occur between the military and civilians because of the influx of soldiers into civil spaces to tackle insecurity problems.

 

He, however, assured all that the Nigerian Army, under his watch, would do everything within its powers to protect and uphold the human rights of the citizens while discharging its duties.

 

The army chief, who was represented by the Commander, 4 Special Forces, Doma, Nasarawa State, Maj-Gen. Hillary Nzan further reiterated the Army’s commitment to remain apolitical and loyal to President Bola Tinubu.

 

“The political issues of human rights factors arising as a result of these interactions and frictions are high. In recognition of this, the Nigerian Army has taken up the issue of human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict areas to be a high-priority issue.

 

“Education on human rights issues has been stepped up with continuous sensitisation workshops across all formations of the Nigerian Army in collaboration with the international committee of Red Cross and other reputable national and international organisations.

 

“Equally, the Nigerian Army has established the civil-military legal desk across all its formations as well as the Nigerian Army toll-free call centre and the placement of complaints/suggestions boxes at easily accessible locations in our barracks/cantonments for citizens to report acts of violations of their rights. Such reports when received are treated promptly,” Lagbaja stated.

 

The army chief added that “despite these efforts, there are occasional baseless accusations against the Nigerian Army that are completely false which are received and reported on the media. Yet no effort is made by the purveyors of these false accusations to clarify the true situation, even when verifiable evidences are available.

 

“The Nigerian Army under my watch recognizes that we are a people’s Army and will do our utmost in fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities while upholding the human rights of the people.”

 

Lagbaja, therefore, urged the participants to use the workshop as an avenue to examine all aspects of human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict areas by human rights advocacy groups, security agencies, government organizations and the media.

 

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj-Gen. N.C. Ugbo, said the unprecedented deployment of army personnel for internal security operations had tended to bring up issues relating to human rights.

 

He, therefore, said the seminar was one of the measures aimed at assisting the Nigerian Army to rub minds and collaborate with stakeholders on issues about human rights as it affects military operations and other actors in conflict areas.

 

Our correspondent reports that goodwill messages were delivered by the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State; the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Women Affairs; and the representative of the Human Rights Commission, amongst others.

 

Meanwhile, Defence Headquarters Abuja says over 286 terrorists have been neutralized, 244 of them apprehended  and rescued 122  kidnapped hostages.

 

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General, Edward Buba revealed this on Thursday in Abuja during the bi- weekly briefing on the ongoing Military Operations by the Armed Forces of Nigeria(AFN) and other security agencies in the various theatres of operations across the six geo-political zones of the country in the last week.

 

 

General Edward Buba   said the military is wasting no time and sparing any effort to ensure security and safety of citizens across the country, reassured that the AFN would continue to take necessary measure to ensure a secure and safer environment for citizens.

 

According to him, “Following  the chorus of voices saturating the air waves  in the country, there is no gain saying that, there are salient challenges affecting our country that require practical ideas and solutions. It is against this background that the military finds itself uniquely  positioned to unabatedly address the security challenges in the country.

 

“The armed forces  is not only ensuring  discrimination of terrorist and the cohorts in the country.  It remains  focussed and concentrates on the task and mission at hand.

 

In the South- South, he added that  troops denied the oil theft of the estimated sum of Two Billion Five Hundred and Sixty Five Million Four Hundred and Seventy  Nine Thousand and Seven Hundred and Twenty Naira (N2,565,479,720.00) only.”

 

According to him ,”Furthermore, troops recovered 587 assorted weapons and 7,943 assorted ammunition. The breakdown as follows: 207 AK47 rifles, 56 locally fabricated guns, 17 pump action guns, 10 locally fabricated pistols, 22 dane guns, one FN rifle, 6 double barrel automatic pump action, 2 double barrel guns, 2 x 36 hand grenades and 10 IEDs.

 

 

“Others are: 4,088 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 2,529 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 138 rounds of 9mm ammo, 39 rounds of 7.62mm refilled ammo, 331 P445 rounds of 7.62mm special, 180 rounds 5.5mm ammo, 2 PKT link of 7.62mm special, 445 live cartridges, 67 magazines, 6 HH radios,14 vehicles, 32 motorcycles, 34 mobile phones and the sum of N4,876,950.00 amongst other items.”

 

 

He said troops in the Niger Delta area discovered and  destroyed 134 dugout pits, 79 boats and 116 storage tanks.  Other items recovered include 149 cooking ovens, one speedboat, 11 vehicles, 8 motorcycles and 74 illegal refining sites.

Troops recovered 2,947,770 litres of stolen crude oil, 251,800 litres of illegally refined AGO, 6,125 litres of DPK and 6,790 litres of PMS.

 

 

He pointed out that “On one hand, the above is indicative of the fact that  troops are recording successes  week in and week out in the ongoing counters insurgency  operations across the country. On the other hand,the classic principle of counterinsurgency is that you can not win this kind of war militarily.

 

“We have eliminated several terrorist, their  leaders and  commanders.Troops are continually  going after the terrorist and dislodging them from their hideouts.  In spite of all these, it would appear that there more to be done to win this war outside the use of military pressure.”

 

“Accordingly , we must  now win this war by changing  the conditions that make the insurgents willing to fight. We must also win the war by increasing support for government at various levels through heart and mind projects indicative of good governance.

 

 

“There is no doubt that, the times that we are in, is difficult and therefore a watershed moment for our country. Citizens are urged  to realize that tough times do not last, but  tough people do. As a people, we are renowned for our pride in being tough and resilient.

 

 

” There is a a no better time to manifest these qualities in us in overcoming the pains of today, in order for the  gains of tomorrow.  I dare say that, this too shall pass.

 

“The time is  ripe for patriotic and well-meaning citizens to contribute alternative ideas on ways to make a difference in turning the situation around. Collaborative effort is essential at this time. Simply put, we are one people, one nation and one destiny,”  he said.

 

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