Biafra Protest & Other Internal Security Challenges: Army reads riot act, warn officers against lukewarm attitude.
Following what has been described as the lukewarm attitude displayed by officers and soldiers of the Nigerian army during current internal security challenges unfolding in the country like the violent Biafra protests in the South and other political threats as witnessed in the run up to the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Army High Command has warned it officers against shying from their duties.
Vanguard however gathered that the attitude of many of the officers and soldiers being referred to, particularly those serving in the Southern part of the country, is not unconnected with recent investigations into the conduct of security personnel during the last general elections in the country whereby personnel who were performing their duties in accordance with the ‘laws of the land’ are the victims of petitions and investigation, after allegedly ‘taking sides’.
Towards this end, the Army yesterday directed its officers and men engaged in internal security coordination with Nigeria Police to be alive to their responsibilities of adequate protection of lives and property and desist from taking sides.
It warned that officers found taking sides in any internal insurrection or failing to perform his responsibility as expected would face the consequences of their actions.
In a reminder of the Nigerian Army Rule of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security Operations (Operation Mesa), Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col Sani Usman said the force frowned upon “the observed short comings especially negligence and outright ignorance displayed by troops deployed for Operation MESA and other Internal Security (IS) Operations.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the ROE and Code of Conduct set out the circumstances and limitations, under which armed force may be applied to achieve military objectives in furtherance of government policy within Operation MESA and other IS Operations.”
“Any officer or soldier found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct, would be severely dealt with according to the extant laws.”
Once deployed on any internal security (IS) operation, Usman said “it is the duty of an officer or soldier to ensure the enforcement of law and order in conjunction with other security agencies.”
He reminded troops that they are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they are deployed.
“It is inexcusable for troops to stand aside and watch the security situation deteriorate leading to loss of lives or damage to property without intervening.
“Such intervention should, however, be based strictly on sound judgment and within the ambit of the code of conduct for IS Operations while exhibiting good professional ethics”, he added.
Citing Sect 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which provides that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) shall suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, Commander-in-Chief reinforced by Sect (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004, the Army declares “this presupposes that troops have to use necessary force to quell crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damages to properties”.
Other highlights of the ROE include:
Other highlights of the ROE include:
Principle of minimum force and proportionality must be applied at all times; whenever operational situation permits, every reasonable effort shall be made to control the situation through measures short of using force, including personal contact and negotiations.
“The use of lethal force shall only be resorted to if all other means to control the situation have failed or in case of unexpected attack or suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack during which a delay could lead to loss of life or serious injury to personnel; and that any force applied must be limited in its intensity and duration; it must also be commensurate with the level of threat posed.
Others are that: force shall be used only when absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate aim; the decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commander, unless there is insufficient time to obtain such order.
Fire can however be opened if the life of a soldier, any law abiding member of the public and/or property of which it is our duty to protect is in grave danger; fire must be aimed and controlled. Indiscriminate firing is not permitted.
Also: Fire may be opened to forcefully stop any vehicle that fails to stop at a checkpoint or road block when ordered to stop for search; automatic fire will only be opened as a last resort.
“Avoid collateral damage; after fire has ceased, render medical assistance and record details of incident both in writing and using audio/visual equipment whether or not casualty has been recorded; and whenever in doubt, seek clarification from higher headquarters” Usman said.