BY OKONKWO EZE
ONITSHA – Soldiers have been advised not to engage themselves in looting during crisis management or take sides with politicians during an election period.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Adebayo Olaniyi who gave the advice yesterday at the Military Cantonment, Onitsha, at a one-day sensitization workshop on Election and Disaster Management in Anambra State, said officers and men of the Nigerian Army should always abide by the rules-of-engagement in any operation.
Olaniyi who was represented at the occasion by the Assistant Director of Legal Services at the 82 Divisional Army Headquarters, Enugu, Col. Yusuf Shalangwa, declared: “You are expected to maintain high ethical and professional standards whether in internal security, civil emergency operations or election duties, adding, You must not loot in any civil or emergency duties you engage in or take sides with politicians during the forthcoming governorship elections in Anambra State. You must work within your operational guidelines”.
He, however, said that the army was ever ready to protect its officers and men, who had discharged their professional responsibility creditably from unnecessary and unwarranted civil litigations, adding that the services of some reputable law firms in the country have been engaged the by military to defend such officers who had discharged their duties according to the dictates of the law.
In his own paper entitled: “Military and Media Relations: The Way Forward”, Col. Hamza Gambo, Deputy Director of Army Information at the 82 Division, Enugu, said that the army and the press had enjoyed a historical robust relationship, adding, “The collaboration is always there. And the Nigerian Army all over the years has related positively and cordially with the public and the media”.
According to Gambo, “The army has created special public relations and media relations department to further cement the closeness to the public and media, pointing out that the army also needed the media in its internal security duties especially for confidential information as well as projecting the achievement of the army generally”.
In another paper entitled: “The Press and Crisis Management during Natural Disaster: 2012 Anambra State Flood in Focus”, Lt. Col. Bayode Adetoro, the Commanding Officer of 14 Field Engineers Regiment, Onitsha noted that the media had a vital role of informing the people to reduce casualties.
Earlier in his remarks, the Commander of 302 Artillery Regiment (General Support), Onitsha, Col. T. A. Gagariga had called on those in flood-prone areas to listen and take action after messages or alert sent to them through the media or social media network.
According to Gagariga, “With the media being at the centre; it would be easy to contain any natural disaster. And emergency plans would be direct and clear to all stakeholders involved in a situation”.
He noted that the workshop was organized by the 302 Regiment, Onitsha as part of its contribution to the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra as well as Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) warning on possible flooding.
The workshop which has Mr. Adim Williams of the Krisoral Group of Companies Limited, was attended by representative of the government, traditional rulers, community leaders, NGOs, Civil Liberty Organisations, Human Rights Organisations, media as well as officers and men of the army.