A Civil Society Organisations, Global Peace and Life Rescue Initiative, GOPRI, has said that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has set the pace in the Nigerian Army’s human rights records, saying cases of rights abuse which the Nigerian Army was commonly associated with have become history.
The CSO said, it was made possible through the establishment of the Nigerian Army Human Rights Desk by the army chief, saying posterity would ever remain grateful for what it described as “this uncommon feat” of the General Buratai.
The group, in a statement on Sunday, by its Executive Director, Amb. Melvin Ejeh, also praised the General Officer Commanding, GOC 3 Division, Major General Nuhu Angbazo, for strictly adhering to the vision of General Buratai in this regard, noting that the development has in no small measure, reduced incidences of rights abuse by men of the Nigerian Army in Plateau State.
Recalling with nostalgia how rampant cases of soldiers’ brutality on civilians were in the State, Amb. Ejeh expressed gratitude to both Buratai and Angbazo for the initiative, saying it has not only earned the people’s trust on the army, but also seen both men of the Nigerian Army and civilian populace relating and cohabiting without suspicion on any side.
Noting that sound human rights records would be one of the many legacies of Gen. Buratai, Amb. Ejeh insisted that contrary to what was known of the service in the past,”the Nigerian Army has tremendously improved on its human rights records.”
GOPRI said the Nigerian Army has been repositioned in eyes of objective Nigerians.
“We want to particularly praise the General Officer Commanding, GOC 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Nuhu Angbazo for his strict adherence to the COAS’ vision on human rights
“His implementation of the COAS’ vision in Plateau State and his General Area of Responsibility, AOR has again restored the people’s confidence and trust in the Nigerian Army.
“This has no doubt,really changed civil/ military relationships between the Nigerian Army under his watch and their civilian host. This is a sharp departure from what we used to see in the past,” he said in the statement.
According to him,”Reports from our civil society situation room on human rights from January till the end of second quarter of 2020 and response from various stakeholders during our ongoing Community Advocacy Programme have been favorable and quite commendable.”
He added:”This is the first time that a G.O.C will be going beyond mere lips service to uphold the culture of human rights.
“We are particularly pleased unlike before when we used to have cases of civilian brutality by soldiers of this division on a daily or weekly basis. But for close to two years now, there’s no single genuine issue of rights abuse by soldiers in our situation room.”
The rights activist also lauded General Angbazo for his sponsorship of a weekly human rights radio programme in Plateau State, saying it had raised the consciousness of the civilian populace on the activities of the Nigerian Army and educated them on how to seek redress in event of any breach of their fundamental rights by men of the service.
“This has greatly restored the lost confidence between civilians and men of the Nigeria Army,” he said,adding that:”It is on this premise that we wish to strongly commend the Chief of Army Staff on his vision on human and the G.O.C for perfectly implementing the COAS vision. ”
“We wish to call on others to find time to appraise our Army and rate them where they duly deserve instead of always sitting down to find faults from them without justification. They are humans and also need our support to succeed,” he further said.
He spoke further of Buratai’s initiative:”A significant and sensitive area in the institution of the Nigerian Army which has suffered desertion and absolute neglect for decades but for which Gen. Buratai’s purposeful leadership has initiated and brought to limelight is the crucial issue of observance of human rights.
“So, Gen. Buratai has envisaged that once in a while, some soldiers on national service or special assignments could breach professional etiquette or Rules of Engagement (ROE) by violating or abusing the human rights of civilians.
“Buratai with this initiative, has put a stop to the belief that the Nigerian Army permanently positioned itself to protect soldiers accused of human rights abuses.
“The COAS’s establishment of the Human Rights Desk is a practical and novel step designed consciously to improve Military/Civil relations, by allowing civilians who feel their human rights have been abused or unlawfully bruised by soldiers to lodge their complaints to the Army authorities through the Human Rights Desk.
“Observed cases have confirmed the operationality of the Army’s Human Rights Desk. It has functional phone numbers and officers permanently manning the desks 24 hours per day to receive complaints.
“Gen. Buratai by his action, has broken the jinx or public perception of Army Barracks as impenetrable fortresses for aggrieved civilians.
“Now, any civilian who alleges any wrongdoing on him by soldiers freely walks into any Army formation the accused soldier is domiciled to serve him court summons.
“The Army authorities release the accused soldier to appear in civilian courts with his lawyers to defend the charges levelled against him. This was impossible in the past! It is great innovation in recognizing the dignity and fundamental rights of Nigerians.”
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