*TASKS BURATAI ON TRANSPARENT PROBE OF OFFICERS:
*Demands implementable deadline on counter terror campaign:
“Giving the significant depletion of forces of terror even amidst administrative cum bureaucratic constraints since the last four years, the current chief of Army staff lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai cannot be written off totally but needs to be supported massively and if possible assigned a mandatory time-line with which to decisively bring to a manageable level the violent attacks by elements identified as either affiliated to the Islamic state or the boko haram terrorists. The Nigerian central government should also end the practice of releasing into the open society, arrested and detained fighters of boko haram terrorists in the guise that they are repentant or deradicalised but must prosecute and punish terrorists to serve as effective deterrent to reoffending.”
HURIWA said counter terror war is succeeding but is lacking in the area of mass mobilisation to motivate indigenous persons of the North East of Nigeria to shun the trappings of enrolling into these different armed terror groups and to effectively cooperate with the military to defeat terrorists that have levelled down public and private real estates and public infrastructures.
With the above summation of the counter – terror campaign so far, a foremost civil rights advocacy platform – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has emphasized that should president Muhammadu Buhari feel sufficiently convinced to extend the tenure of chief of Army staff lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the federal government can do so provided a clear deadline for a decisive victory against terrorists is handed down to the service chief with specific reference to the Army chief.
But HURIWA has tasked president Buhari to appoint fresh professionals representing all ethno-religious affiliations to head other strategic security services in such a way as to ensure balance and adherence to the principles of federal character as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. HURIWA dismissed the statement from the Presidential spokesman Alhaji Garba Shehu that counter terror war has no time lines. The group said that a simple reading of current affairs would have made the Presidential to avoid the public opprobrium accompanying his false claim since even the richest terror network known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was decisively defeated and their territory recovered from them by allied forces just as HURIWA said if the West African joint counter terror platform were to work professionally then within a year the threats by armed terror forces can be sufficiently defeated.
HURIWA said section 14 (3) of the grund norm emphatically provides that: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”. It therefore tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on inclusion of Representatives of diverse Ethno religious affiliations in the yet to be constituted national security team.
The Rights group also stated that in carrying out assessment of performances of the service chiefs, merit and the concrete evidences of performance indicators of each of the service chief must be applied so as not to throw the baby away with the bath water.
“If truth be told, the Army chief has performed excellently in the battle against armed boko haram. The Air chief has similarly performed exceedingly well. But that cannot be said of all of them. So Mr. President if he so desires to retain any of the service chief, he should be guided by the yardstick of individual performance indicators and not adopt a “let my people go “principle.
HURIWA in the statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf has also canvassed the purchase and delivery of 21st century compliant weapons and effective delivery of social welfare for the combatants who are giving their all to safeguard Nigeria’s territorial integrity”. HURIWA said it has it on good authority that the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Yusuf Tukur Buratai pays greater premium to the welfare of his soldiers.
The Rights group said the police and the department of state services (DSS) ought to effectively wage decisive battles against armed bandits and kidnappers so as to allow the Army and other segments of the armed forces to fully concentrate efforts in eliminating terrorists who pose grave danger to our national sovereignty.
Besides, HURIWA wants the president to ensure that there is synergy and harmonious operational modus operandi and unity of purpose by all the departments within the nation’s armed forces so that the threats against Nigeria’s territorial security constituted by armed boko haram terrorists are fought as a united front devoid of rivalries. HURIWA said the person to occupy the office of National Security Adviser should coordinate operations of security forces and should be rated as a senior cabinet level Federal office holder.
However, HURIWA wants the Army Chief to re-open investigations into the wanton destruction of lives and property unleashed by the military in the South East of Nigeria during the operation Python Dance 2 because the Rights group affirmed that indeed hundreds of unarmed civilians identified as belonging to indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) were massacred. HURIWA also condemned the illegal classification of IPOB as a terror group.
The Rights group said the probe initiated by the government and made up of individuals either still serving in the military or government which claimed that no crimes against humanity was committed by the military in the South East of Nigeria was economical with the truth.
The Rights group said it is tidier to re-open the investigation by an entirely independent investigative panel which should include representations of credible civil rights bodies and the United Nations so as to prosecute indicted individuals internally or else the plethora of petitions before the international crimes court in The Hague Netherlands would be pursued to a logical conclusion.
HURIWA stated that it had earlier petitioned and invited the ICC to investigate cases of crimes against humanity in the South East of Nigeria by soldiers. The Rights group said it was also worried that the Army has come under allegations of some of her officers engaging in economic sabotage such as crude oil bunkering in Lagos and Rivers state.
HURIWA said the allegations made against the General officer commanding (GOC) of 6th Division of the Army major General Jamil Sarhem by governor Nyesom Wike alleging economic sabotage of crude oil bunkering has been swept under the carpets. Also, the Army of 56 signal command in Mile 2 Lagos has been accused of oil bunkering.
“These extensively damaging accusations are too strong and huge enough to graphically paint Nigeria as a nation whose leadership tolerate impunity should the accusations be simply dismissed by mere wave of hands when infact the law has set up the Army to protect the territorial sovereignty of the country”.