GOC warns agitators for Nigeria’s split
The army said if, by any circumstance, its personnel are deployed on such operation, “ we shall apply the rule of enforcement to the fullest.”
Briefing journalists yesterday shortly on arrival from the theatre of war in the Northeast, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Armoured Division which takes charge of the region, Major- General Hassan Umoru, said officers and soldiers have been warned not to take sides in any conflict, adding that if they are found wanting, they will face the consequences of their actions. “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,” he warned.
The GOC, who reminded the army of its rules of engagement for internal security operations, quoted the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as providing in Section 217 (2) (c) that the Armed Forces of Nigeria 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.
According to Gen. Umoru, “this presupposes that troops will have to use necessary force to quell crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damage to property.
“Consequent upon this and the observed short comings, especially negligence and outright ignorance displayed by troops deployed for Operation MESA and other Internal Security (IS) Operations, it is necessary to remind all about the Nigerian Army Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Code of Conduct for such operations in aid of civil authority for public knowledge and understanding.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the ROE and Code of Conduct set out the circumstances and limitation under which armed forces may be deployed to achieve military objectives in furtherance of government policy within Operation SAFE HAVEN, Operation PULO SHIELD, Operation MESA and other internal security operations.
“In the ROE, once deployed on any IS operation, it is the duty of an officer or soldier to ensure enforcement of law and order in conjunction with other security agencies. Troops are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown of 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.”
The GOC further said: “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. Any force applied must be limited in its intensity and duration; it must also be commensurate with the level of threat posed. Force shall be used only when absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate aim.”
According to him, “the decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commanders, 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 which we are expected to protect, is in grave danger.
“Fire must be aimed and controlled. Indiscriminate firing is not permitted. 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. Whenever in doubt, seek clarification from higher headquarters.”
During question and answer session, Umoru said that in the military operation of any event of any sudden attacks by Boko Haram members, “one thing I want you to understand is that anybody who is pointing any weapon at you is an enemy and if you don’t bring him down quickly, he will use that weapon to his advantage. Therefore, you have to bring him down immediately.’