We are committed to protecting Human Rights in conflict situations- COAS.

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Lt-Gen. Taoreed Labgaja, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) says that the Nigerian Army remain committed to protecting Human Rights of people in conflict situations in line with global best practices and roles of engagements.

The Chief of Army Staff made the pledge while delivering his address at the opening ceremony of the 2024 Nigerian Army Human Rights Seminar on Thursday in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital.

The COAS was represented at the occasion by Maj.-Gen. Hilary Nzan, Commander of Army Special Forces 4 Doma, Nasarawa State.

According to the Chief of Army Staff, the deployment of troops across the country brings soldiers into civil space and frictions are bound to occur between them and civilians.

“It is in recognition of this that the Army has taken up the issue of human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict areas to be of high priority.

“Education on human rights issues has been stepped up across all formations of the Nigerian Army in collaboration with International Committee of Red Cross and other humanitarian partners.

“We have also established the Civil-Military Legal Desk across all formations and opened Army roll free call centre as well as placement of complaints and suggestions boxes in barracks for report of violation of human rights,” he added.

Labgaja further said the seminar which brings all relevant stakeholders in the human rights advocacy was necessitated because of the commitment to by the Army to protect civilians at all times in line with their mandate.

He added that the Army under him was committed to to fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities while protecting the rights and dignity of Nigerians.

He also said that all issues raised by other stakeholders during the seminar would be looked into by the Army with a view of improving on their Civil/Military relations.

The COAS said that Nigerian Army would continue to ensure that its personnel are appropriately trained, equipped and highly motivated to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.

He also promised that the Nigerian Army would continue to strategies in collaboration with other agencies in order to bring the security challenges facing the country within the shortest possible time.

Also speaking, Mag.-Gen. Nosakhare Ugbo, Chief of Civil-Military Affairs said this is the second edition of the seminar and the Army have decided to be holding it twice every year.

He added that the Nigerian Army has been engaged in sustained operations against a myriad of security threats caused by non-state actors and unorganised adversaries across the country.

“While the conduct of armed conflicts between state actors and organised armed groups are guided by International Humanitarian Law, the one with unorganised groups pose various issues of human rights,” he added.

He further said that the seminar was designed to enable the Army get feedback from the society on issues of human rights as it affects their operations.

He therefore said that the second human rights seminar for 2024 would hold in Lagos State in September.

Also speaking, Anthony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission represented by Mr Okay Benedict, said the seminar was aimed at reinforcing them in protecting the rights of the people.

Ojukwu applauding the military for their dipper understanding on how to maintain national security and protection of human rights of Nigerians.

He therefore, said that the commission had investigated some allegations of human rights violations against the military by some groups and discovered that the facts on ground proved to the contrary.

He commended the Nigerian Army for deploying cognitive strategic in their operations that the why they are winning the hearts and minds of Nigerians on the fight against criminal elements.

On her part, Carmen Paping, Child Protection Officer of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) commended the Nigerian Army for the initiative geared towards protecting human rights during conflicts.

She added that protecting the rights of children is very important to them and said that they are currently delivering humanitarian aids to 3.4 million children across Nigeria.

She therefore, promised thar they are willing to partner the Nigerian Army toward achieving the set target.

On her part, Justice Aisha Bashir, Chief Judge of Nasarawa State said the initiative would go a long way to bring understanding between the military and civilians.

She said that the initiative has clearly shown that the present leadership of the army was ready to uphold the human rights of Nigerians while performing its constitutional duties.

She also said that the judiciary in the state would support the military and other security agencies by ensuring that criminals faced the punishments for the crimes they have committed.

The seminar, which had in attendance Human Rights Commission, traditional rulers, also featured a paper presentation. (NAN).

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