The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) must work with the Nigerian Armed Forces to integrate human rights into its counter-insurgency operations.
NHRC Executive Secretary Tony Ojukwu made this known in Abuja during a symposium on human rights in counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.
The event was organized by the commission in partnership with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) and supported by Open Society.
“The commission acknowledges the existing rules of engagement, code of conduct and other efforts of the military in developing frameworks for the protection of human rights.
“We look forward to engaging with these frameworks and making them even more effective and responsive to current and emerging challenges.
“We want to strengthen its existing complaint and accountability mechanisms,” he said.
The symposium, Ojukwu said, is designed to serve as a platform to sensitize the military and other actors to integrate human rights standards into counterinsurgency operations.
“We want to exchange ideas on the need to uphold the norms that protect the rights of civilians and to address human rights violations in the form of injuries and loss of life for civilians and military personnel” , did he declare.
He said the Nigerian Constitution also guarantees the rights to personal liberty, freedom of association, freedom of movement and freedom of religion, conscience and thought.
“We are concerned about the operations of the Civilian Joint Task Force and other associated non-state self-defense and support groups participating in operations in the Northeast.
“The protection of human rights and compliance with all relevant international and national frameworks and protocols is the responsibility of every person in the theater of conflict,” he said.
Similarly, Dr. Salamatu Suleiman, a lawyer, said bringing stakeholders together to deliberate on human rights issues would bring good results.
She said the NHRC has a statutory mandate to promote and protect the human rights of Nigerians.
“Its responsibility is to ensure that the state meets its obligations and responsibilities in accordance with international best practices.
“The State has an obligation to respect and protect the right to life of soldiers and individuals under their jurisdiction against attacks by armed groups.
“Such an obligation includes taking steps to ensure that officers are properly trained and equipped to counter insurgents, putting in place measures to prevent the commission of offences, prompt investigation of human rights violations human rights and humanitarian law,” she said.
Contributing, Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor, represented by Defense, Civil-Military Relations, Rear Admiral Adeseye Ayobanjo, thanked the organizers of the event.
He said the event would give stakeholders an opportunity to interact.
The event, Irabor said, came as global security was threatened.
Irabor said that although Nigerian security has been under threat since 2009, he noted that human rights abuses have decreased significantly.