Chris Steve, Abuja
An assembly of continental experts in human rights monitoring has lauded the adherence of the Nigerian Army to the rules of engagement guiding their operations.
The experts just concluded a two days sessions of brainstorming on how best to tackle the humanitarian and human rights issues around Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram, terrorism and other violent groups.
They spoke at different sessions of the two-day seminar on humanitarian issues, human rights and the war against insurgency in Nigeria organized by the Save Humanity Advocacy Centre (SHAC) with the theme “Global War Against Terrorism: For Nigeria, A Choice Between Law and Life”.
While scoring the Nigerian Army high in its efforts to keep such violent group from destroying the country, they noted that the military might have achieved more if it were not distracted in the discharge of its responsibility.
They faulted a growing trend of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) being used to diminish Nigeria’s ability to effectively use its military to fight terrorism with a note of caution that the rights of citizens to life and freedom from terror have been subjugated to the rights of terrorists.
The resulting loss of livelihood by victims of terror attack was identified as a new level of terror attack on the country since the economy would ultimately collapse if terrorists continue to get international support that prevent citizens from making their own contribution to the economy.
A resource person at the event, Professor Kenneth Amaeshi noted that “Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa’s economic and social growth.
“A socio-mental awareness of Africa and her people first as a continent and human beings with genuine needs, before being a market with viable consumers,” Professor Amaeshi stressed.
As the economy of Nigeria is taking a hit from terrorism, some of the experts at the event opined that some countries are making economic gains out of the crisis.
“Nigeria’s war on terror reveals several internal and external threat landscapes, such as global market-driven arms diplomacy, human insecurity, national corruption, socio-cultural beliefs and eco-political complexes,” says Professor Sam Smah.
For him, “Thus, the proliferation of ethnic or religious organisations and groups /militias in Nigeria, like MOSOP, MEND, OPC, IPOB, IMN, cattle herders and Boko Harum are illustrations of terrorist or terror oriented organisations.”
Daniel Agbiboa, Assistant Professor of conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason University in Arlington, United States, spoke on the role of non-state actors in mitigating or escalating humanitarian crisis using the cover of human rights to clip on the state actors from taking decisive steps that could tame terrorism.
Agbiboa, who has authored over 50 scholarly articles in the field of terrorism, political violence, and urban warfare, with a regional focus on the Lake Chad Basin and the horn of Africa, said assessment of the war on terrorism is more complex than some interest paint the picture.
He explained that “The picture, however, is more multi-colored than the ‘black and white’ often painted by global civil rights organisations like human rights watch and amnesty international. Since 2010, the ‘excesses of the Nigerian security forces’ are often the subject of many human rights reports, from AI to HRW and ICG.”
“Most discourse about human rights abuses in northeastern Nigeria are skewed towards the stories of the abused of ‘the so-called victims’ while the perspectives of the military ‘the so-called perpetrators’ are all too often overlooked. “
Dr. Agbiboa pointed out as he noted that on March 2017, the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai inaugurated a special board of inquiry to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged violations and abuses of human rights but that those desirous of criminalizing the military and the Federal Government always ignore such.
Other participants like Professor Danfulani, Professor Sam Smah, Paul Cobaugh, Dr. Christopher d’Orsi, Dr Arkad, Dr. Udenta O. Udenta etc all expressed concerns that the successes being recorded by the Nigerian military and security operations against Boko Haram and other terrorists grouped are being undermined by cyber terrorism.
They decried the situation where persons that secretly support Boko Haram or other violent groups hide behind the unanimity of online and social media to misinform the public to the advantage of terrorists.
A communique issued at the end of the seminar urged “The creation of a strong legal framework that protects members of the military who participate in quelling insurgency to entitle them to legal aid, immunity against prosecution and strict tribunals headed by people with war experiences. This should be backed with a hybrid Justice system.”