By Bulama Kaka
The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that it had constituted five general military courts to try and punish soldiers found to be guilty of human rights abuse and other acts of indiscipline and misconduct.
Speaking during a briefing held in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, said the courts were situated at Operation Lafiya Dole, 2 Division, 81 Division, 82 Division and the Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja.
The army chief warned that the military would not spare any officer or soldier found culpable of human rights abuses and other offences.
Buratai said, “Most of the security problems we are having in this country are associated with misinformation. Therefore, we have a great task of educating and enlightening members of the public on the true situation. It does not augur well for national security and troops’ morale when the military is portrayed as weak and corrupt, not trusted or respected as was the case with the recent unfortunate attacks on our locations and the lopsided reports on them.
“The war against terrorism and insurgency needs to be viewed and reported as it is: a war between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and terrorists and criminals, not the Nigerian Army versus the Boko Haram insurgents.
“The Nigerian Army, like every other human system or institution, is not, and cannot be perfect. Indeed, there were instances of observed gaps. We have improved on our military justice system and do not spare any officer or soldier found culpable of human rights abuses and other offences.
“I have ordered the constitution of a general court-martial to try various acts of indiscipline and other offenses at the Operation Lafiya Dole, 2 Division, 81 Division, 82 Division and the Army Headquarters Garrison.”
The army chief, while reacting to allegations of human rights abuses and complicity in crime made by the Amnesty International against the army in a report published last Wednesday, described the AI’s allegations as unfounded.
Buratai said, “In the Nigerian Army, nobody tampers with the pay and allowances of any officer or soldier. And wherever there are proven cases of deviation from our rules of engagement or laws, the appropriate disciplinary measures were always taken against such erring personnel. It is, therefore, preposterous for Non-Governmental Organisations, such as the Amnesty International, to consistently undermine our reputation and demoralise our troops through consistent and unfounded allegations of human rights abuses.
“The organisation, no doubt, cannot do what it is doing in Nigeria in many other sovereign countries. There are many instances of unprofessional conduct by the staff of the AI in Nigeria. Its collaboration with the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is an example.”