Against the backdrop of increasing observations of human rights abuses within theatres of operations and its negative consequences on the armed forces, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has advocated for regular training and enlightenment of troops on rules and regulations guiding the use of arms in crises situations.
The CAS made the disclosure while declaring open, the seminar on “Laws of Armed Conflict organized by Headquarters Ground Training Command (GTC) at the 551′ Nigerian Airforce Station in Jo’s, Plateau state on Monday, December 2, 2019.
Represented by the Air Secretary at NAF headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Ahmed, the Chief of Air Staff said, “As we know, the Laws of armed conflict arose from a desire among civilized nations to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction among the civil populace while waging war against belligerents and insurgents”.
Air Marshal Abubakar said, “I am delighted to be here as guest of honour at the occasion of GTC’s Seminar with the theme “Observance of Laws of Armed Conflict: A Panacea for Successful Military Operations”.
“I am aware that this Seminar is planned to deepen understanding of laws of armed conflict during military operations among personnel.
“I want to urge all participants to be broad minded and to come up with innovative ideas that would improve the observance of human rights by the NAF in performance of our constitutional duties.
“The NAF takes seriously outcomes of seminars such as this to improve its processes and procedures in the performance of its duties.
“Let me reiterate that when I came on board as the Chief of the Air Staff in July 2015, I carefully crafted my vision which is, ‘To reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives”.
“One of the focal points of this vision is the development of human capacity. It is our firm belief at the time that a man can only give what he has.
“I am happy to note that we have made substantial progress in the development of human capacity in all specialties within the NAF. This Seminar is one case of such efforts.
“I am also aware that the Directorate of Legal Services, HQ NAF organized a similar seminar in March this year which targeted mainly the legal officers in the NAF.
“This Seminar is a further effort to expand the target audience in the wake of increasing observations of human rights abuses within the theatre of operations and its negative consequences on the armed forces.
“Accordingly, it has become increasingly important to constantly remind ourselves on the rules and regulations guiding the use of arms in crises situations particularly during internal security operations.
Continuing the CAS said, “The topics selected for this Seminar are apt and important for several reasons.
“Firstly, it would deepen the understanding of the personnel on Laws of Armed Conflict during military operations.
“It would also broaden the knowledge of commanders and individual airman responsible for enforcing security during asymmetric and internal security operations.
“Most importantly, it would strengthen personnel knowledge on human rights and will engender public trust during military operations in internal security.
“It is my hope that the presentations and the interactions that would follow will convey new ideas on ways of achieving the objectives of this Seminar, thereby meeting the aspirations of the NAF.
“Let me use this medium to once again pledge our collective loyalty to Mr President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The progress recorded in the NAF since my assumption of office would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of Mr President.
“The additional acquisition of some platforms and the huge infrastructural development within the NAF Bases is a testament of the enormity of support the Nigerian Air Force enjoys from Mr President.
“As a repository, all officers, airmen and airwomen of the Nigerian Air Force will continue to render our selfless service with total dedication and unbridled loyalty to Mr President and our great country, Nigeria.
”Finally, I would like to thank the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command for this initiative and his team for organizing this event. I thank you all and I wish you a very fruitful discussion. I now have the honour to declare this Seminar open.”
In his address, the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin gave some of the reasons why the Command undertook to organize the seminar.
He said, “First, it is to create awareness among personnel on the need to observe Laws of armed conflict during military operations.
“This is because, we are conscious that as a Command, we are responsible for the training of initial and upgrading the knowledge of non-technical personnel in the NAF.
“Thus, the need to create this awareness on the Laws of armed conflict is more compelling on us than before.
“Secondly, we want to create consciousness among Commanders to their responsibilities in the Laws of armed conflict.
“Thirdly, we will use the outcome of this seminar as a basis to include this subject in the training curriculum of both Military Training Centre and the Regiment training School.
“Keeping these objectives in mind, we have carefully chosen 3 topics and have invited suitably qualified resource persons to handle the topics.
“Another significant aspect of the seminar is the timing relative to establishment of the Command. Although, the Command was established just barely 2 years ago, we are aware of the enormous responsibilities placed on our shoulders.
” We know that the NAF is actively engaged in the fight against insurgency and other forms of banditry across the country more than before.
“We are aware that the products from training institutions under Command particularly regiment personnel and special forces are the personnel deployed mainly for ground operations in various theatres of conflict within the country either singly or in support of other security agencies.
“This will bring them in close contact with civil populace thereby exposing them to accusations of violations of Laws of armed conflict.
“Thus, there is a need for them to know the laws and observe them whenever occasions demand.
While thanking the Chief of the Air Staff for his guidance, support and visionary leadership which has resulted in the Seminar, Air Vice Marshal Amin pledged that the officers and airmen/airwomen of the Command will continue to contribute their quota in actualizing the vision of the Chief of the Air Staff.
“We will continue to be prudent in the management of available resources in line with your philosophy of doing more with less resources. Also, we will continuously review training curricula in our training institutions to make us competitive in line with the best global practices”, he added.
“To our resource persons, Branch Chiefs and AOCs, I wish to express our profound gratitude for your presence.
“Furthermore, I want to appreciate the representative of the Plateau State Government. We thank you for your presence and continuous support to the Nigerian Air Force Station Jos.
“We have always enjoyed support from the Government of Plateau State and we will continue to work with other security agencies to guarantee peace for socio-economic development of the State.”.
The first paper titled ‘Observance of the Law of Armed Conflict During Military Operations’ was delivered by Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Ahmed, the Air Secretary at NAF headquarters.
Discussants of the paper were Professor CJ Dakas of University of Jos, Brig Gen FJ Udaya (rtd) of NIPSS and Major AB Bello (rtd) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) while Air Commodore S Naiya (rtd), a former Director of Education at NAF HQ was the Moderator.
Among senior officers present at the occasion were the Chief of Administration, NAF HQ, AVM Kingsley Lar, AOC Tactical Air Command, AVM Charles Owho, Air Officer Commanding, Mobility Command, AVM Uzezi, the Chief of Communications and Information Systems at NAF HQ, AVM Dimfwina, AVM AG Bello, SASO at Special Operations Command who represented the AOC, Navy Commodore Jamila Abubakar Sadiq Malafa, Director of Legal Services at Naval headquarters, Air Commodore Akiode, Director at NAF directorate of Standards and Evaluation.
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