Some soldiers currently fighting ‘Boko Haram’ insurgents in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the northeast have called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to join troops in Sambisa and monitor developments.
Some of the soldiers made the call in Maiduguri on Saturday in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria at a workshop organised by the commission, in partnership with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The programme was designed to update the knowledge of military personnel and other law enforcement officers on the application of basic human rights principles and norms during counter-insurgency operations.
One of the soldiers, who requested to be identified as simply ‘Muhammad’, urged the commission to attach its staff to troops in the front-line to enable them monitor cases of human rights abuses.
The soldier said such move would enable the commission to be eye witnesses to any case of violation.
“The commission should send their staff, just like the journalist who go with troops to the front line to get first hand information,”he said.
Another soldier who wanted to be anonymous, expressed the same feeling, saying going to the front line would give the commission, the opportunity to appreciate what soldiers were passing through.
He lamented that many of his colleagues had been killed and their rights abused by the insurgents.
“They kill us everyday, burn our corpses, while some of us have our throat cut of by the insurgents but no one is saying that our rights are being violated.
“It is only when we kill Boko Haram that you see international organisations coming out to claim human rights violation; who is going to fight for our right?,” he queried.
Babatunde Abiola, another soldier, said the commision should invite the organisations accusing the army of violation, to join in monitoring activities in Sambisa instead of just sitting in the comfort of their homes and leveling unsubstantiated allegations of rights violation.
“Let them come and join us so that we can ensure the protection of human rights together,” he said.
Other soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity, voiced the same feeling.
It will be recalled that Maj.-Gen Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander, Operation ‘Lafiya Dole’, had earlier urged the commision to defend troops against false accusation by the Amnesty Internation (AI) and other organisations.
Nicholas lamented that Non Governmental Organisation had continued to spread false narratives, attributing all the problems of the insurgency to the military.
“These organisations are more interested in condemning our military but always turned their back on Boko Haram who are the ones perpetrating all sorts of crimes against humanity.
“We are Nigerians too, our soldiers are human beings too, and their rights are been violated on daily basis by Boko Haram,” said Nicholas.
Nicholas said that the Nigerian Army was being guided by its code of conduct, which had clearly stipulated the rules of engagement in accordance with best practices.
The workshop, titled “Mainstreaming Human Rights And Civilian Protection into Counter-Insurgency Operation in The Northeast” was attended by military and paramilitary personnel.