The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has charged the new Service Chiefs to consolidate on the structures erected by their predecessors to mainstream promotion and protection of Human Rights.
HURIWA charged the new Service Chiefs to sustain and increase the momentum of establishing strong monitoring mechanisms to clean up the human rights records of some operatives and to be decisive in prosecuting human rights violators amongst the military rank and file.
The group made the remark while commending the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai, rtd, for putting up the human rights department in the Nigerian Army.
A statement by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, said Buratai had posted a full fledged military General to take charge of continuous dialogues with credible leaders of the organized Human Rights community in Nigeria.
HURIWA said the department on civil-military relations deepened national conversations on how best to professionalise the Army and to ensure compliance to global best practices.
The rights group said the new service chiefs must expand and upgrade the internal mechanisms for constructive dialogues between the military and civilians.
It acknowledged the challenges related to violations of the human rights of Nigerians by military operatives during internal military operations,
HURIWA said: “On no account should the hierarchy of the military downplay the essence of respecting the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms of the citizens clearly spelt out in chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
“The new Service Chiefs must put a high premium on staff training, retraining, continuous capacity building and welfare of the men and officers of the Armed forces of Nigeria.
“There must be zero tolerance to indiscipline just as the immediate past Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai maintained so the World will respect the institution of the Armed forces.
“HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, therefore, reminded the new service chiefs of the factual reality even unambiguously adumbrated in a scholarly law book by General T.E.C. Chief, PhD that the soldier is part of the society and also a citizen.
“Being a soldier does not remove him from society but puts on him a specially conjured status called compact.’ He enjoys all the rights of a citizen except those he surrenders by virtue of his being a soldier.
“Upon acquisition of military status, both civil and military law govern him. In support of this position, Takai submits that “the soldier by becoming a soldier does not relinquish his identity or status as a citizen with the rights and obligations contained in the constitution. He remains subject both to the civil and military laws, a situation described by some jurists as a compact.”