The authority of the Nigerian Army, says it has received and treated more than 500 complaints of human rights violations against the personnel of the armed forces in six years.
The Chief of Civil Military Affairs (CCMA – Army), Maj.-Gen. Markus Kangye, disclosed this during the first quarter of Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) media chat in Abuja on Tuesday.
Kangye also revealed that appropriate sanctions for officers involved were applied where necessary, adding that that the formation of Civil-Military Legal Desk (CMLD) had been a milestone since 2016,
He added the desk was basically established to address alleged human rights violations by troops during internal security and counter-terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the country.
According to him, the desk, which is a cell under this department, receives and facilitates investigations of alleged human rights violations against military personnel and recommends appropriate sanctions.
He noted that all the complaints received were investigated, adding that some of the complaints were found credible while some were not.
“This underscores the premium the COAS places on human rights issues. In order to drive this policy, a 24-hour call centre, with designated short code, 193, was established on May 30, 2017 to receive emergency calls.
“Since inception, the desk has received over 500 complaints which were treated and appropriate sanctions applied where necessary.
“Thus, available statistics show that there has been a drastic reduction in litigation cases involving Nigerian army personnel in recent times.
“This could be attributed to the constant sensitisation workshops to human rights conducted across the divisions and formations coupled with the impact of the desk’s sanctions on offenders,” he said.
On his part, Brig.-Gen. Ojogbane Adegbe, the Director, Psychological Operations, Department of Civil Military Affairs, said the combination of kinetic and non-kinetic operations in addressing security challenges was in line with international best practices.
Adegbe said the department had achieved a milestone in the non-kinetic approach through various intervention programmes for communities in places where there were military operations across the country.
Delivering a lecture, a former army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman (Rtd), said there was need for constructive engagement between the military and the media to ensure cordial relationship.
Usman, who delivered a paper titled “Media Operations in Contemporary Warfare: Operation Hadin Kai in perspective”, said the military needed the media to succeed in its operations.
He also urged military spokespersons to be proactive in their media engagements to avoid giving room for speculations adding that information was an essential requirement of the journalism profession.
According to him, the military spokespersons should know that timely, accurate and valid information was what the media required to function effectively.
He also urged newsmen to also strive to do their job without jeopardising military operations as reporting a planned operation could jeopardise such an operation.
“So the suspicion against the media is not out of place because they tend to report sensationally and unprofessionally.
“Of course, there are several instances where the media usually are also guilty by jeopardising the military operations, compromising national security and even the lives of troops and citizens,” he said.
Usman, however, urged the military and the media to work together as partners in progress toward tackling the security challenges bedeviling the country.