The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has said the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to investigate Nigerian security forces over allegations of “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes” will have negative consequences on troops’ morale and interest in military service by Nigeria.
Following allegations of human rights abuses against the country’s security forces in the Northeast and other parts of Nigeria, the ICC’s General Prosecutor had said she would seek full investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Nigeria, as well as during the Ukraine conflict.
But reacting, Buratai said, “There is no doubt such statement and instigation can distract the Nigerian Army troops with its demoralising effects.”
Buratai in a statement on Saturday, in Abuja through the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa, Buratai added that
The statement read: “The Nigerian Army’s attention has been drawn to a press release by the Prosecutor General of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday, December 11 2020, alleging she has found a reasonable basis to believe that ‘members of the Nigerian Security Forces (NSF)’ have committed acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“This was immediately followed by a release by the local branch of Amnesty International (AI) in Nigeria “demanding full investigation of atrocities by Nigerian forces.
“However, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General TY Buratai, enjoins Nigerian Army troops to ignore the distractions and calls on the gallant troops never to be worried or demoralised by these moves.
“The COAS who is currently in self-isolation as part of precaution against COVID-19, would soon be joining our gallant troops in the Northeast at the end of the mandatory isolation period to continue giving the desired leadership and support to the gallant and patriotic troops of the Nigerian Army.”
Buratai also encouraged the troops to fight on to secure “our country and people.”
He further enjoined troops to ignore what was described as wicked, unnecessary distractions and directed troops to fully concentrate on the final defeat of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist groups.
While charging the troops to work hard and be guided by the Constitution, the Rules of Engagement, the Code of Conduct and the Standing Operating Procedures for all Nigerian Army Operations, he said:
“The COAS wishes to assure and reiterate that the Nigerian Army is not only protecting human rights, but is also sustaining human rights nationally and globally.
“Our professional conduct over the years and most recently during the #EndSARS protest at Lekki near Lagos is clear testimonies to the Nigerian Army’s posture on promoting sustainable human rights policy.”