The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, has lamented that some civil cases against the Nigerian Army are targeted at distracting the force from performing its constitutional function.
The COAS stated this during the law seminar organised by the Nigerian Army in conjunction with the National Judicial Institute with the theme, ‘The place of law in counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in Nigeria.’
Buratai reiterated that the Nigerian Army would continue to adhere to the tenets of the rule of law in its operations.
“Some of the suits instituted against the NA are meant to distract the NA from its constitutional roles of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria,” he said.
He therefore, urged the participants to consider the aspect of national interest while adjudicating over such cases.
“Let me point out that the Nigerian Army will continue to adhere to the tenets of rule of law in our operations,” he said
He said the theme was carefully chosen by the organisers of the Seminar considering the current security challenges bedeviling the entire country.
The COAS, who was represented by the chief of policy and plans, Nigerian Army, Major General RO Yusuf, said the fight against terrorism and insurgency especially in North East, Nigeria has preoccupied the minds of many Nigerians both within and outside Nigeria, adding that it has been a source of concern for the international community.
He said since assumption of office in 2015, he has been monitoring issues and allegations of human rights abuses against troops deployed for operations across the country in line with the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces’ mandate to the armed forces in the fight against terrorism.
“The NA has also ensured that the fundamental human rights of citizens are adequately protected in all our exercises and operations.
So far, we have been able to address petitions and addressed different kinds of claims against the NA through the establishment of Human Rights Desk Offices in Army Headquarters and across all the Divisions of the NA,” he said
He reiterated that the Human Rights Desk has a special hotline for citizens who have genuine claims, complaints and petitions to make against the NA, to report a natural disaster or to report any act of terrorism and so on.
He urged citizens to dial 193 and report such cases,adding that each Human Rights Desk is headed by a Military Lawyer.
The COAS further noted that the NA has also ensured that all cases pending in civil courts against it are either assigned to competent Registered NA External Advocates or Military Lawyers of the Directorate of Legal Services (Army) to handle.
He added that Court Martial cases and Summary Trials in the field are also given adequate professional attention by deploying Legal Officers, who are not only trained military personnel but Legal Practitioners, to the field from Division down to Brigade level.
He stressed l
The chief of defence staff General Gabriel Olonisakin who was represented by Maj Gen Leo Irabor in a goodwill message said he will continue to ensure that officers and men of the armed forces operate within the purview of the law in discharge of their constitutional mandate.