Human lives more precious than cows, HURIWA tells Nigerian Army

Posted by News Express | 25 January 2018 | 1,404 times

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The deployment of troops of the Nigeria Army by the Presidency to Niger State to combat the scourge of cattle rustling and a similar deployment of the Police to Benue State to stop killer herdsmen from carrying out terror attacks indicate that the Federal Government values cattle more than human lives.

A civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), which made this declaration also faulted claim by Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, that soldiers are not to chase after armed herdsmen because it is outside the remit of their constitutional duties.

In a statement endorsed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that the constitution of Nigeria obliges him as a primary duty of care to the citizens, to deploy all resources and manpower towards the protection of lives and property of the citizenry.

Citing section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution, HURIWA criticised the undue attention the President pays to the issues of stopping the criminal acts of cattle rustling and further lamented that when the incessant violent attacks and killings of farmers by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen across the country threatens national security, the government is too slow or totally inactive.

“The obligation to end internal insurrection which the frequent terror attacks launched by armed Fulani herdsmen constitute, remains a fundamental constitutional duty of the military as enshrined in section 218 (1) of the constitution.

“The President is an office holder elected not by cows but by human beings. It is therefore unconstitutional to use the soldiers to defend the private commercial interests of Fulani herdsmen instead of deployment of armed security forces to protect lives and property of Nigerians.

“Specifically, section 218 (1) (2) and (3) specifies as follows: (1) The powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation; (2) the Powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly; (3) the President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he may think fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.”

HURIWA also carpeted the Presidential Spokesmen for purportedly defending the non-deployment of soldiers to crush armed Fulani herdsmen, referring him to section 217 (2) (a) to (d) of the 1999 constitution, to understand that the duty of care to ensure right to life of Nigerians rather than right to life of cows rests squarely on the armed security forces.

“Section 217 (2) (a); (b); (c); and (d) provides thus: (2) the federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of; defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

The organisation tasked President Buhari and the National Assembly to quickly activate mechanism for the creation of a regular department of all the armed security forces whose sole duty would be to chase after armed Fulani herdsmen. The group has further called for the classification by Nigeria of armed Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.

HURIWA recalled that as a result of incessant kidnapping and cattle rustling in some parts of Niger State, the military authorities have deployed a special squad to the state to dislodge the criminals. It said indication to this effect came to light when the General Officer Commanding 1 Mechanized Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Major Gen. Mohammed Mohammed, reportedly led other top military officers to intimate the acting Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, at Government House on the development.

HURIWA recalled that the Army commander was accompanied by five trailer  loads of heavily armed soldiers just as information filtered out  that the mission of the military team to the state is tagged “Operation Yaki” aimed at dislodging the criminals from the state.

HURIWA also gathered that the operation would be led by the GOC Commander, General Mohammed Mohammed, though the date for the commencement of the operation is still not disclosed but three Local Government Areas mostly affected are Shiroro, Munyan and Rafi.

Source: News Express

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