…Appeals to justices to consider national interest while adjudicating on cases
By Kingsley Omonobi & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – CHIEF of Army Staff,Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Wednesday,said the many litigations pending in courts against the Nigerian Army we’re ground designs by their handlers to distract the service from effectively carrying out its constitutional mandate of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
To this end,the army chief appealed to justices handling them to consider national interest while treating the cases.
Buratai, who spoke in Abuja,while delivering a welcome address at the Nigerian Army Law Seminar organized by the Nigerian Army in collaboration with National Judicial Institute,NJI, said contrary to claims of human rights abuses against the Nigerian Army in some quarters,the army was carrying out its assignments and operations diligently with high regards to the rule of law.
Represented by Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army Headqarters, Major General Rasheed Yusuf, Buratai insisted that the army was strictly adhering to its mandate in the course of assignments and operations across the country.
He said: “We have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army
“Let me state here that the Nigerian Army would continue to adhere to the rule of law in conduct of its operations.
“It is equally important to note that some of the suits instituted against the Nigerian Army are just to distract it from its constitutional mandate of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“I urge my Lord,the justices here to consider this aspect as national interest while adjudicating over the cases.”
The army boss, speaking further,said:”The fight against terrorism and insurgency has preoccupied the minds of many Nigerians both within and outside Nigeria. This has also been of concern to the international community. Therefore, since my assumption of office in 2015, I have been monitoring the issues against himan rights abuses against troops in the course of operations across the country in line with the President and Commander-In-Chief’s mandate to the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“In furtherance to the need to crush the insurgence in Nigeria and beyond, the Nigerian Army has also ensurred that the fundamental human rights of citizens are fully protested in all our assignments and operations.
“So far,we have been able to address all kinds of issues and other cases against the Nigerian Army through the establishment of Human Rights Dest both at the Army Headquarters and across all the Nigerian Army divisions.Each human rights desk is being headed by a military lawyer.
“The Nigerian Army has also ensurred that all civil cases pending in civil courts against it are either assigned to competent registrars or Nigerian Army’s external advocates or military lawyers by the Directorate of Legal Services.
“All other cases are also given special attention by deploying legal officers who are not only trained military personnel but legal practitioners.
“The Nigerian Army as an institution is guided by appropriate legal advice in sustaining its integrity in the conduct of its operations and this has been appropriately acknowledged within the nation.”
On his part,the Chief Justice of, Justice Walter Onnoghen,said he was impressed with the seminar’s theme,”The Place of Law in Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in Nigeria”, because according to him,”it anchored on the rule of law.
“Terrorism and counterterrorism being the major security threats across the globe,the place of law in any society cannot be over-emphasized. In a democratic system of government,it is the rule of law that dictates the pace at which human beings interact among themselves. Therefore,respect for the fundamental human rights of citizens is sacrosanct,”he said.
He added:” From time immemorial,the rule of law has been a precondition to any civilised existence.