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Don, rights group charge Army on respect for human rights in Nigeria

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The Nigerian Army has been tasked to take immediate and transparent steps towards ensuring soldiers respect the absolute human rights of citizens in all internal security operations.

This call was made by a lecturer of the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT), Dr Chidiebere Ezinwa, at a one day Town Hall meeting organised by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria in Enugu.

Speaking on the theme of “Engaging the media for a responsible, accountable and professional Nigerian Army,” the constitutional lawyer warned that the respect of the Armed Forces would decline if soldiers continue to breach the rights of Nigerians.

He said: “The role of the military is spelt out in Section 271 and 218 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 217 deals with establishment and composition of the armed forces of the Federation, while section 218 deals with command and operational use of the armed forces of Nigeria.

“What has happened to the Nigerian Police? Will the Army not suffer the same fate with their continued involvement in almost every civil strife?

“It is against the backdrop of Section 217(2) (c) that the armed forces in Nigeria face some challenges especially given the numerous internal security threats that brought the army face to face with the civil society almost on a regular basis. Although this situation pre-dated the 1999 Constitution, the reasons for armed forces intervention in crises period remain the same.

“The interaction of the army with the civil society in the course of performing its constitutional function of quelling internal crisis when called upon has a number of negative consequences, which has not only dragged the image of the army in the mud due to some unprofessional conduct; but also has eroded public confidence and trust in the army.”

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