The pro-democracy, non-governmental body, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria, HURIWA, has commended the top military command, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, for pledging to constitute a probe panel to investigate alleged interference by armed security forces during the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections
Lt, Gen Brutai in an address to the top Army hierarchy has said that illegal interference by any army personnel would be professionally handled and any indicted operatives would be named, shamed, prosecuted and punished.
HURIWA tasked the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army to ensure that the operatives deployed for election related internal security operations are not directly involved in the handling of election materials.
The Rights group further tasked the police to clinically fish out the killers of the two soldiers in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local government Area of Rivers state during the just conducted national polls so they would face the full wrath of the law even as the group has commended the Army’s high command for restraining their troops from invading the community in search of the alleged killers which may lead to further escalation of civil unrest and may inevitably result in needless killings.
HURIWA also called on the Nigerian Army to encourage the civil population not to panic or leave their homes for fear of military reprisals.
“We want to commend the chief of Army Staff and the GOC in charge of Rivers state for exhibiting excellent professionalism so far in the handling of the needless violence targeting soldiers which led to the death of two soldiers. We hereby asked that this prevailing atmosphere of loyalty to the Nigerian constitution and adherence to the principle of rule of law must be sustained. May we also call on the Army to fish out the soldiers responsible for the murder of the INEC’s Ad-Hoc staff killed in the line of duty in Rivers state during the Presidential election”.
“We urge the Army not to fall into the temptation of reigniting the Odi kind of military destruction that happened sometimes past in Bayelsa State when similar killing of soldiers led to sudden military invasion and wanton destruction of Odi town.”
In a statement by national coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA reminded soldiers that the law does not allow them to directly get involved in the logistical movements of handling of sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials nor to actually conduct the polls but only to be on standby to provide security related activities in aid of the civil authority should the police be overwhelmed by civil crisis during the elections.
“The determination of the Army’s high command to look inwards with a view to finding out alleged violators of the electoral Act or those amongst the operatives allegedly implicated in election violence is a very welcomed development.”
“We call on the military to intensify efforts to win hearts and minds of civilians from across the society and not to carry out internal military operations in such dreaded forms that would further alienate them from the civil populace who would erroneously see them as forces of occupation rather than as men and women of the People’s Army of Nigeria”, the group said.
HURIWA has advised the Army to ensure that the human rights desks of the Army are extensively involved in the conducts of all internal military operations to forestall the cases of willful breaches of the human rights provisions as enshrined in chapter four of the constitution and universal declarations of human rights, just as the rights group condemned all forms of electoral violence and the needless killings of Nigerians during elections.