Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has said that a report published by the Human Rights Watch, HRW, on Monday criticizing plans by the military to adopt the Sri Lanka approach in stemming terrorism in the country was maliciously twisted to discredit Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operations.
The article titled “40,000 Reasons Why Sri-Lanka Is No Model For Nigeria”, expressed worry about the implication for the country if the military should adopt the Sri Lanka counterterrorism model as declared by Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, last Thursday.
Badeh told a visiting delegation of Sri Lanka’s military at the Defence Headquarters that the Nigerian Military was seriously considering their counter insurgency experience with a view to identifying those areas that could be operationally beneficial to Nigeria in its battle to defeat terrorism.
The HRW article said Sri Lanka’s war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were responsible for numerous horrific abuses particularly in its final stages in 2009, led to the death of over 40,000 civilians, quoting the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts report and caused tremendous and unnecessary human suffering.
It said the Sri Lanka military repeatedly and indiscriminately shelled the area, including a government-declared “no-fire zone” and hospitals trying to care for the sick and wounded, adding that since the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, serious abuses against ethnic Tamils by the military, including systematic rape of suspected LTTE supporters, have continued to the present.
The article called for a careful study of the “careless” Sri Lanka approach and its consequences, which includes human rights abuses, before adoption.
But the defence spokesman Chris Olukolade, a major general, said the army’s genuine intention was misconstrued and presented in false light; reiterating that “the Nigerian military does not have the knack neither has it been duly indicted of human rights abuses as mischievously narrated by Stroehlein in his article.”
Olukolade stressed the army is duly disposed to partnering with every well-meaning country especially those who demonstrate genuine goodwill and respect towards Nigeria in her effort to secure her territory and people.
“Nevertheless, the military remains very conscious of Nigeria’s international commitment especially in the observance of human rights obligations while defending the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a responsible and professional force, the Nigerian military will continue to defend the Nigerian people with all the resources at her disposal and will never adopt any approach or model that might compromise that obligation,” he said.