Nigerian Military Authorities’ Disregard For Human Rights

(By Oresanya Oludare)

Also, the tactics often engaged by the military authorities inadvertently shows a clear lack of combat and intelligence strategy. If the military authorities are charged with national security, how come there are not yet deployments along our national borders to stem the influx of these militants into national territories?  In the absence of human resources to patrol national borders as is often the case they argue, where is the place of technology (Drones and satellites imagery) what are our combat helicopters and fighter pilots doing in military facilities when they can gain operational experience doing guard duty along national borders in the absence of combat experience?

THE recent claims by the Nigerian military authorities that they had killed about 50 militants in the current counter-insurgence campaigns brings to the fore, the apparent failure of our human rights institutions and our apathy to question the moral capacity of an institution or persons to kill a human being without recourse to a full-scale investigation into such killings. Our psyche has been so blunted to believe killing anyone in Nigeria is normal, and any attempt to make constituted authority account for their action is dreaded by many. It is in fact seen as a wasted effort even before commencement of such an endeavour.

  Without doubt, the military institution is one of the holders of the monopoly of force. However, should that equate to wanton disrespect for human rights and the denial of the right to life of citizens and militants? I am no doubt in support of the need for a nation to assert its territorial integrity and flush out threats to it. However, we as a society have failed in our duty to ask questions and call to account the authorities involved in such actions.

  May we remind ourselves that militants are just as human as we are. I understand that their deaths in the hands of security forces bring some closure and respite for families and loved ones of victims of heinous crimes, unfortunately justice cannot be seen as being pursued with due diligence as a society, if we keep quiet and allow indiscriminate extra-judicial killings to fester. The next generation of militants and dissidents will invariably be indoctrinated into militancy before our glare, when children and wives of militants and persons killed through mistaken identities ask our institutions how their loved ones were killed without the nation being able to provide any logical explanation. Here is a nation supposedly saddled with protecting human rights and is the same institution that robs them of these rights.

  Also, the tactics often engaged by the military authorities inadvertently shows a clear lack of combat and intelligence strategy. If the military authorities are charged with national security, how come there are not yet deployments along our national borders to stem the influx of these militants into national territories?  In the absence of human resources to patrol national borders as is often the case they argue, where is the place of technology (Drones and satellites imagery) what are our combat helicopters and fighter pilots doing in military facilities when they can gain operational experience doing guard duty along national borders in the absence of combat experience?

   The combat experiences and intelligence doctrinal learnings don’t seem to have been learnt by ground troops and commanders from these operations. The rhetoric of the military has been that of total elimination of the militants without making every effort to capture them with view to learning operational dynamics of the Boko Haram. We have also systematically believed in our minds that it’s the good guys against the bad guys as such, every action of government is regarded as good while that of Boko Haram and other entities that challenge government are seen as evil. We forget that some of the concerns and demands of these entities have gone unaddressed for years. This has resulted in the development of a rebellious system that alerts governments to their yearnings and aspirations.

  I am a child of history, and I recall that Nigeria only listened to Eastern Nigeria when the civil war started. The Nigerian government only listened to MEND et al. when the Niger Delta became a hotbed for insurgency. Boko Haram’s Shura council might have decided to adopt a similar model; they understand that in Nigeria no one listens except there is systematic and sustained campaign of violence directed at the Nigerian State and have only followed the pattern of their predecessors.

   The demands of the group, “abolition of non-Sharia legal systems and establishment of Sharia law as a legal system in the country” is itself a freedom of expression, the violent tactics engaged by them to press this demand is what we do not necessarily subscribe to.

   In my understanding, security challenges confronting nations evolve and so does the role of national policing, intelligence and military institutions. Israeli military is designed to stem the threats from its unfriendly neighbours and the threats to its high tech industries. So is the evolving role of the American military and Intelligence agencies. The recent Wikileaks revelations and the strides the Western intelligence agencies have made in staying ahead of criminal elements is a vivid attestation to the acclimatisation of these agencies to the changes national security demands and Nigeria is no different. The 1980’s used to be a period of advanced fee fraud and armed robberies. While such are still prevalent, the main threat to our national existence today is the Boko Haram menace, unfortunately. I will have to admit that the evolution of the Nigerian agencies has been at best mediocre and they are not fit to meet the challenge.

  We need to assert that if our intelligence; military and policing institutions fail us in their efforts to stem the nation’s recurrent insecurity challenges, they do not serve the purpose for which they were established and as such they cannot guarantee our human rights.

  Back to the question of human rights, we all, as responsible citizens, have a responsibility to call to account past and future incidents of this nature. We must not only comment on the pages of newspapers and social media when another Aluu killings occur, our society must constantly reassert that human rights and especially right to life must be respected under all circumstances; and all institutions saddled with public safety must uphold human rights.

  My charge to our society is that we have to wean ourselves off the shrug of the shoulder attitude to extrajudicial killings in our country. There should be the reawakening, with a sense of urgency, of the need to correct our attitude by constantly demonstrating and affirming that sanctity of human life is sacrosanct. Our society needs the media to lead the charge through news bulletins and newspaper articles to portray the sober reflections of a nation in dire need of respect for human life.

• Oludare lives in Ibadan, Oyo State.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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