The Nigerian military said, yesterday, that it took the issue of human rights seriously and will never condone any proven case of abuse by its personnel.
Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, in response to allegations of war crimes against the military by Amnesty International, said in a statement: “Military authorities are deeply concerned about the set of video footage being circulated and which unfortunately has also become reference data for Amnesty International in its report.”
Amnesty International, in its report, claimed to have “a fresh evidence of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights violations being carried out in North‑Eastern Nigeria as the fight by the military against Boko Haram and other armed groups intensifies.”
The military in its response said, “much as the scenes depicted in these videos are alien to our operations and doctrines, it has to be investigated to ensure that such practices have not crept surreptitiously into the system.
“The Defence Headquarters considers these allegations too grievous to be associated with Nigerian troops, considering the doctrinal and operational contents of the training imparted to personnel on a continuous basis; emphasising the importance of respect for human rights and dignity of human person as well as observance of humanitarian laws.
“Notwithstanding the cases of impersonations that have pervaded the counter terrorism operations in Nigeria and many other related issues which cast doubts on the claims made in the video, the military authorities view those grave allegations very seriously, more so as it borders on the integrity of the on-going counter‑terrorism operation, which must be sustained in the interest of our national survival.
“Consequently, the Defence Headquarters in addition to the already existing Joint Investigation Team, JIT, has constituted a team of senior officers and legal cum forensic experts to study the video footage and the resultant allegations of infractions in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims with a view to identifying those behind such acts.
“This will further determine and stimulate necessary legal action against any personnel or anyone found culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces cannot condone any action or inaction that tramples on the right to life of any Nigerian. The ultimate objective of Nigeria’s counter‑terrorism operation is the complete cessation of the heinous and barbaric activities of the terrorists and to stamp out every vestige of terrorism in our country with the application of international best practices in such operations.
“It will, therefore, be absurd for the Nigerian Armed Forces as an institution to perpetrate such unprofessional acts in the manner and level depicted in that video as alleged by Amnesty International.
“Indeed, that level of barbarism and impunity has no place in the Nigerian military. Respect for the sanctity of life is always boldly emphasiSed in our doctrinal trainings. It must thus be reiterated that the Nigerian military is a very well organized professional body of troops whose conducts in war and peace times are guided comprehensively by law.”
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria is conscious of the nation’s obligation to observe all rules, regulations and commitments in all activities, and wishes to reassure all Nigerians, the civil societies and the international community that it will not encourage or condone any form of human rights violation as depicted in the said video.”