Following reports that the Nigerian Army has launched multiple military exercises covering the South East region of Nigeria aimed at checking the excessive cases of attacks targeting strategic national security institutions/ personnel and the killing of civilians by unknown gunmen, a call has gone to the military high command to abide by rules of engagement, respect for Human Rights of civilians and adherence to the principles of Rule of law.
HURIWA has also tasked the Nigerian Army not to work under a bandwagon conspiratorial plots that the attacks and killings are carried out by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra but the Army must be open minded, look inwards and investigate the possibility that these attacks may have been masterminded by federal government officials and some governors of the South East of Nigeria who may want to undermine the public acceptance and popularity of the agitation for self determination as canvassed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.
HURIWA expressed consternation that in the past few months many innocent Igbo youths have been killed, arrested, incarcerated and tortured by the security forces under the guise that all Igbo youths are members of IPOB just as the Rights group said even members of IPOB or ESN are entitled to the full protection of the law and therefore must never be killed extralegally by the armed forces of Nigeria which is an institution created by the GrundNorm.
Making the charge is the nation’s leading civil society group, HURIWA, just as the group has proffered workable solution to the rising uprising in the South East which according to it would include the recommendation by the South East governors to the president of Nigeria to lift the illegal tagging of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group and to order the release of the detained leader of IPOB Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the institution of a genuine National reconciliation and dialogue for South East of Nigeria by both the central government and the South East governors.
“The South East governors should begin by rescinding their ill-informed and malicious decision to recognize IPOB as a terrorist group after which the governors of the South East should openly recommend to president Muhammadu Buhari the deproscription of IPOB as a terrorist group as condition precedent for peace.
HURIWA said it is mischievous that the same IPOB that operates freely in Europe and the United States of America are classified as a terrorist group by President Muhammadu Buhari who has yet to classify Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and Fulani herdsmen as terrorists”.
Besides, HURIWA through a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Adviser Miss. Zainab Yusuf tasked the South East governors to hire forensic private investigators so the forensic criminologists can ascertain the members of the deep state carrying out attacks on strategic national security institution and operatives and the sporadic but well coordinates assassinations of Igbo citizens.
HURIWA has therefore restated her position that IPOB is not behind the spate of violence in South East since the majority of the victims are the finest crop of Igbo people just as the group suspected that some key officials of the federal government may be funding the violence.
HURIWA reminds the military of their legal obligations in all internal military operations thus:
“Nigerian Armed Forces when deployed for either internal or external operations, are bound by the laws of war and international law in the conduct of the operations.
“The laws regulate and limit the conduct of operations by acting as checks against arbitrary use of force. They are intended to minimize unnecessary suffering by combatants and non- combatants during war.
“The laws of war and international law are therefore sources of military law in Nigeria and include the following:
a. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949.
b. The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
c. Multilateral and bilateral agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory and have bearing on military service or operations.
d. The decisions of:
1. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.
2. Ad hoc war crimes tribunals set up by or with the backing of the UN Security Council.
3. The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.”
HURIWA therefore states that the four Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims are as follows:
a. Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field.
b. Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked members of Armed Forces at Sea.
c. Geneva Convention Relative to the Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of war.
d. Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”.
The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are to supplement the 1949.
Protocol I deals with the laws of war in international armed conflicts while Protocol 2 addresses the laws of war applicable in internal armed conflicts.
It is nóteworthy that the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols of 1977 have been formally given effect in Nigeria by the enactment of the Geneva Conventions Act Cap G3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
In sum, the Conventions and Protocols which are now an Act of the National Assembly, elaborately spell out the laws of armed conflicts on the use of force and the legal implication of disregarding rules regulating the means and methods of warfare, among other things. Specifically, section 3 of the Act provides a plethora of safeguides.
The Rights group therefore asked the military not to apply excessive use of brute force or to torture innocent people in the South East of Nigeria just as it reminded the Nigerian Army that all eyes are watching them and they will be subjected to international legal reprimand should they abuse human rights.