Activists allege Islamisation of Nigerian Army; demand probe, immediate reorganisation

Posted by News Express | 4 April 2019 | 1,684 times

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Rights and pro-democracy advocates under the umbrella of the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights & Democracy Organizations (SBCHROs) on Thursday alleged the “radicalizing and Islamizing the Nigerian Army by engaging in massive recruitment of hundreds of “repented” Boko Haram terrorists including its recently announced “enlistment and graduation” of 152 Boko Haram terrorists Gombe State.”

“The NA had maintained such illegal, unconstitutional, un-secular, bias and unethical practice since 2016 leading to unlawful and unethical enrollment of hundreds, if not thousands of the so called “Ex Civilian JTF” and “repented Boko Haram fighters” into the NA; contrary to clearly laid down rules governing the Nigerian Army, its ethics and secular status,” SBCHROs, a coalition of more than 23 human rights and democracy organisations based in Southeast Nigeria, said in a joint statement issued in Onitsha, signed by Messrs Emeka Umeagbalasi; Aloysius Attah; Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD; Justice Chidi, PhD; Prof and Ms Chidinma Evan Udegbunam.

The coalition demanded for “immediate re-organization of the Nigerian Army”, saying: “The re-organization must be immediate and done by setting up the Nigerian Army Probe Commission and the Nigerian Army Reforms or Reorganization Commission.”

Groups in the coalition include Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Onitsha); CLO, Southeast Zone (Enugu); CLO, Anambra State Branch (Onitsha); Forum for Promotion of National Ethos & Values (Enugu); Igbo Ekunie Initiative (United Kingdom); Int’l Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (Enugu); Foundation for Environmental Rights; Advocacy & Dev (Aba); Society for Economic Rights & Social Justice (Aba); and Human Rights Organization of Nigeria (Onitsha).

Others are Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (Onitsha); Southeast Good Governance Forum (Awka); Society Watch & Advocacy Project (of Intersociety) (Onitsha); Initiative for Ideal Dev & Emancipatory Leadership in Nigeria (Aba); Igbo National Council (Owerri); Anambra Human Rights Forum (Awka); Voice of the Voiceless Int’l (Awka); Easy Life Initiative for Rural Youths (Aba); Community Empowerment Network (Aba); Southeast Movement against Transactional Politics & Profligacy (Awka); Prof Justice Chidi (Southeast Academia); Neighborhood Environmental Watch Foundation (Abakiliki); Citizens for Righteousness & Social Justice (Owerri).

According to the coalition, “In re-organizing the Nigerian Army, direly and urgently needed to restore the confidence of all Nigerians and repositioning of same on the path of modern military and its doctrines, all the lopsided recruitments particularly the illegal enrolment of insurgents and the so called “Civilian JTF members” must be looked into and reversed with those recruited under such illegal and unethical circumstances weeded out of the NA.

“The NA must also be returned to its former path of professionalism, secularity and ethical soldiering. As an interim measure, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the Chief of Defense Staff, who have remained in their positions since July 2015; with their office tenure beclouded by incompetence and mountainous conduct atrocities, must be weeded out; to be followed by massive retirement of all the serving Major Gens (including GOCs) and Brigade Commanders, headed by Brig Gens. The exercise should be carried out within the confines of Doctrine of Necessity or be treated as issue of urgent national importance.

“There shall also be massive retirement of present crop of senior Army officers from the rank of Major Gen and where in any senior ranking category such as Brig Gens or Colonels, it is found that such senior ranking is grossly lopsided or occupied or dominated by officers of Hausa-Fulani Muslim, or Southwest Christian/Muslim, or South-south/Southeast Christian, or Middle Belt Christian backgrounds, etc; there shall be mass retirement of same and adequate payment of compensation to the retirees so as to pave way for balancing the imbalances. This special exercise must be extended to other branches of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Police and Paramilitaries.

The new Nigerian Army of our expectation must not be “Nigerian Army of Islamic logo or symbol” but that with its logo or symbol written in Nigeria’s lingua franca. It must also not be Nigerian Army of ethnic cleansers and religious zealots or Nigerian Army of ballot box snatchers, fake election result writers/adulterators, hostage holders of election chief returning officers, preventers and intimidators of independent voters, controllers of peaceful assemblers with live/deadly bullets and committers of war crimes and crimes against humanity, etc.

“We boldly and patriotically take this advocacy position with attendant call bearing in mind that the present central Government of Nigeria is widely criticized as cabal led with its President not office coordinated and in charge including not listening to voices of the social change and its agents; yet it can never stop us from saying or doing what is right in our priceless quest for better society and advancement of democracy, human rights and due process in Nigeria or any part thereof.

“Bearing in mind that Nigeria is not an island of its own but a strong reliant on comity of civilized and advanced nations for survival, growth and development; we are by this informed position, placing the ball in the court of members of the international democracies and UN to put sustained pressure on the present central Government of Nigeria to get things done right in the country particularly the reorganization of Army and allied others.

“With over $1billion in humanitarian, military and development aids from western democracies alone annually and billions of dollars worth of arms trade and other non military trades with Nigeria on annual basis, we have no doubt in our mind that the pressure under demand shall prevail if applied fully.

“That is to say that further aids, military trade and others with Nigeria should be tied to holistic reorganization of the Nigerian Army and allied others and bringing to book of all the perpetrators of the conduct atrocities highlighted above. The int’l democracies are further urged to add visa ban and property seizure and international border arrest and prosecution of the named perpetrators including Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the COAS.”

 

 


Source: News Express

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