Army Creates Human Rights Desk to Investigate Cases Of Abuse

Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff
Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff

The Nigerian Army has promised to investigate reported cases of human rights abuses made against its personnel.

The assurance was given on Thursday by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a Lieutenant General, at the commissioning of the Army Human Right Desk which, according to him, marks an important day in the history of Nigerian Army.

Buratia, who was represented by the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Rogers Nicholas, a Major General, noted that the establishment of the human rights desk was informed by the increasing interest of the local and international human rights organisation in the activities of Nigerian troops in the North East and other parts of the country.

“The concept note for the efforts of the human rights office in the Army Headquarters (AHQ) was as a result of increasing interest of local and international human rights organisations and institutions in the Nigerian Army human relations footprints but specifically in areas of our operations in North East.

“The nature of inquiries and commentaries from these institutions requires a response of professional and specialised in nature by the NA. What we are witnessing today has been facilitated by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).”

Buratai said that the human rights desk would be under the supervision of the Chief of Military Affairs, with inputs from the Provost Marshal’s office, and would have the responsibility to receive documents, investigate complaints from individuals, organisations and institution on rights violation involving soldiers.

The desk’s job would also include reporting findings of investigations into human rights complaints to the Chief of Army Staff, producing annual reports, reviewing and updating of existing training manual and facilitating participation of soldiers and officers in local and international training programmes, the General said.

He stated further that the desk would also be “liaising and facilitating interaction with the human rights organisations; strategise and strengthen capacity of the NA in promoting human rights; and as well as developing a network of contacts of human rights offices in Nigeria.”

Also speaking at the occasion, the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Ben Angwe, commended the Nigerian Army for what he described as a novel and bold initiative.



    The NHRC boss, who was represented by a director in the agency, Saka Azimazi, said that the move was a commendable precedence for other services to emulate.

    “My plea is that the office remains open for enquiries and with this the Nigerian Army will remain close to the civil populace. We also ask for technical and logistic assistance be given to the desk to operate effectively,” he said.

    In his own remarks, the senior human rights adviser to the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Country Team in Nigeria, Martin Ejidike, while commending the army for setting up the desk, also observed that it was setting precedence for human rights work in Nigeria.

    “The Nigerian Army is setting important precedence for the human rights work in Nigeria. This will create a context of engagement and information exchange between the CSOs and the Nigerian Army. The army has done a commendable work for improved human rights records. We want to extend the support of the UN system and to furnish you with technical support to the desk,” Ejidike stated.

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