Civilian protection is key in counter insurgency operations in the North East, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Tony Ojukwu Esq has said.
He made this known in Yola during a two-day training on mainstreaming human rights and humanitarian principles and civilian protection into counter insurgency operations in the North East.
The training which is an annual capacity building for the military, was put together by the NHRC and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Ojukwu who was represented by the Commission’s Director of the Department of Women, Children and Vulnerable groups, Mr. Harry Ogwuche Obe, said that contrary to the belief of most people, the troops also need human rights protection as much as the civilian population.
“The rights of the officers and men of the Nigerian military are just as important as the that of the Civilian population and must be respected, he said”.
The Rights Commission’s Boss said the successes recorded in counter insurgency operations in the North East must be sustained.
He used the medium to call on the government to do more in the area of providing the military with the necessary resources that will motivate them to achieve more successes in the fight against insurgency.
“The military need the best available equipment to protect them while in the front lines because when the military fail, the consequence is that people lose their lives and properties to insurgents”
The Human Rights CEO further stated that following series of engagements with the military at different levels, and with the establishment of human rights desks in military commands across the country,
“we observed that the military is desirous of working within human rights laws as we record less cases of human rights violations perpetrated them presently, as compared to when the insurgency started”.
He said the Commission’s way of supporting the fight against insurgency is by organizing such training “we want to build your capacity more, so that we can have more confidence in your ability to operate by the highest standards in the counter insurgency operations”.
The representative of the UNHCR Country Rep at the event, Mr. Mohamed Tejan Cole, who doubles as the head of UNHCR field office in Yola, said the 2019 UNHCR Global trend report indicates that Nigeria presently has 1.7million displaced IDPs in the States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
According to him, “this means more humanitarian problems but what is paramount to us as humanitarian workers is the protection of this large population of vulnerable groups”.
The representative of the military, Flight Lieutenant Abara Agbo, said one of the objectives of the armed forces is to keep Nigeria as one, therefore troops should not allow the attitude of the enemy to cause disunity among them.
He added that “the reason why we are called professionals is because we are trained, we should strive to use this training and professionalism in responding to crisis situations”.
While promising to further step down the training in their various formations, the troops expressed delight at the opportunity to learn new ideas saying it will positively impact on their operations in the frontlines.