ByÂ Jide Ajani
THE Federal Government has been asked to establish civilian-military committees at the federal, state and local government area levels in the country as a way of promoting cordial relations between the civilian population and military personnel.
Government was also urged to extend the Niger Delta Amnesty programme to include apology by the Nigerian military to victims of its high-handedness over the years.
These were some of the suggestions made at the town hall meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to promote cordial relations between civilians and military personnel in the country.
The Civil- Military Forum was organised by the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marchall Paul Dike, to identify causes of friction between civilians and military personnel and fashion out strategies to promote cordial relations between the two.
Chief Executive of Newswatch Communications Ltd, Mr Ray Ekpu, who was the guest speaker at the event, traced conflicts between civilians and military personnel to the different cultures between the two components of society.
He identified military intervention in government, the Civil War, the drafting of soldiers to maintain internal security at crisis points across the country as reasons for the visibility of the military in Nigeria.
Speaking further, he called for regular interaction between the soldiers and civilians, investigation and enforcement of the law in cases of conflict between civilians and soldiers, re-training of soldiers on issues of human rights and more openness by the military institution as ways of promoting cordial relations between civilians and soldiers.
Rivers State governor, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amechi, who was represented by Secretary to the River State Government, Mr Magnus Ngei Abe, called for the promotion of mutual respect among the citizens as panacea to peaceful co-existence among civilians and between civilians and military personnel.
Another suggestion at the forum was that the government should devote more attention to the welfare of military personnel in terms of salaries, accommodation and welfare on retirement from the service.