Chief of Army Staff criticizes military-civilian clashes, vows to protect citizens’ rights 

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has frowned at the reports of disagreements between the military and civilians in some parts of the nation, PUNCH reports.

He then vowed to protect the rights of all citizens of the country.

Speaking at a one-day human rights seminar tagged, ‘Expounding the Human Rights Narrative in Contemporary Times: Impact on National Security,’ which was organised by the Nigerian Army in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital, on Thursday, Lagbaja explained that some frictions were bound to occur between the military and civilians because of the influx of soldiers into civil spaces to tackle insecurity problems.

He, however, assured all that the Nigerian Army, under his watch, would do everything within its powers to protect and uphold the human rights of the citizens while discharging its duties.

The army chief, who was represented by the Commander, 4 Special Forces, Doma, Nasarawa State, Maj-Gen. Hillary Nzan further reiterated the Army’s commitment to remain apolitical and loyal to President Bola Tinubu.

“The political issues of human rights factors arising as a result of these interactions and frictions are high. In recognition of this, the Nigerian Army has taken up the issue of human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict areas to be a high-priority issue.

“Education on human rights issues has been stepped up with continuous sensitisation workshops across all formations of the Nigerian Army in collaboration with the international committee of Red Cross and other reputable national and international organisations.

“Equally, the Nigerian Army has established the civil-military legal desk across all its formations as well as the Nigerian Army toll-free call centre and the placement of complaints/suggestions boxes at easily accessible locations in our barracks/cantonments for citizens to report acts of violations of their rights. Such reports when received are treated promptly,” Lagbaja stated.

The army chief added that “despite these efforts, there are occasional baseless accusations against the Nigerian Army that are completely false which are received and reported on the media. Yet no effort is made by the purveyors of these false accusations to clarify the true situation, even when verifiable evidences are available.

“The Nigerian Army under my watch recognizes that we are a people’s Army and will do our utmost in fulfilling our constitutional responsibilities while upholding the human rights of the people.”

Lagbaja, therefore, urged the participants to use the workshop as an avenue to examine all aspects of human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict areas by human rights advocacy groups, security agencies, government organizations and the media.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj-Gen. N.C. Ugbo, said the unprecedented deployment of army personnel for internal security operations had tended to bring up issues relating to human rights.

He, therefore, said the seminar was one of the measures aimed at assisting the Nigerian Army to rub minds and collaborate with stakeholders on issues about human rights as it affects military operations and other actors in conflict areas.

Our correspondent reports that goodwill messages were delivered by the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State; the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Women Affairs; and the representative of the Human Rights Commission, amongst others.

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