President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that proven acts of human rights violation by the Armed Forces will be punished under his leadership.
President Buhari gave the warning in Kaduna on Saturday while addressing officers, troops and newly commissioned cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
He said his government remained committed to overhauling the rules of engagement and improving operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human rights violations by the military.
President Buhari also reminded the Armed Forces that the rule of law applied to them as much as any other institution in the country.
He said his administration was committed to a thorough investigation of recent and any future occurrences of human rights violations by elements of the Armed Forces.
Buhari emphasised that his administration would insist on the rule of law and deal with any proven cases of deviation from laws of armed conflict, including human rights abuses.
The president said: “I wish to remind you of federal government’s commitment to overhaul the rules of engagement and improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human rights violations by the armed forces.
“We are committed to a thorough investigation of recent and any future occurrences of human rights violations by elements of our Armed Forces. While I applaud the integrity and sterling record of the Armed Forces as an institution, this administration will insist on the rule of law and deal with any proven case of deviation from laws of armed conflict, including human rights abuses.
“In operational conduct, Nigerians expect our Armed Forces to keep law and order, and not to behave like bullies. Let me reiterate this administration’s commitment to due process, merit and total observance of the rule of law as central pillars of a prosperous and democratic society.
“The rule of law as an element of good governance applies to the Armed Forces as much as any institution in our country. It is therefore gratifying that all three Services have recently taken steps to emphasise strict adherence to rules in recruitment, promotions, procurement, project executions and civil-military relations,” the president said at the passing out of officer cadets of the NDA’s 62 Regular Course and Short Service Course 43.”
Buhari also noted that while security remained the most important challenge in his government’s “Change Programme,” Nigerians expected exemplary conduct and professionalism from officers and men of the Armed Forces at all times and in all situations.
“The objectives of our fight against terrorism cannot be realised without a credible and effective military. You must avoid any behaviour that will tarnish your honour and dignity as commissioned officers.
“Your commitment and loyalty to the Armed Forces and the nation must be total. I urge you to take your roles in the ongoing process of rebuilding our Armed Forces very seriously,” President Buhari told the newly commissioned officers.
The president disclosed that his administration was pleased with the Armed Forces’ resolve to end the Boko Haram insurgency once and for all.
He also assured the Armed Forces of federal government’s determination to ensure the speedy provision of platforms and equipment required to win the war against terrorism and meet their long-term needs.