Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said on Thursday that troops deployed for counter insurgency operations had the right to defend themselves against attacks by terrorists.
Ojukwu stated this while answering questions from newsmen on the sidelines of a two-day training exercise for military and security personnel engaged in counter-insurgency campaign in the northeast.
The training was to expose the troops to the observance of human right laws and civic protection in the counter-insurgency campaign.
Ojukwu pointed out that the law provided rights for the troops to protect themselves in self-defence when attacked by insurgents.
According to him, the training exercise was organized in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
He added that the training exercise with theme: `Mainstreaming Human Rights, Humanitarian Principles and Civilian Protection in Counter Insurgency Operations in the Northeast’, was to check human right violations in the execution of the war against Boko Haram.
He said that the exercise was imperative to expose the participants to human right laws, rules of engagement and enhance civic protection in the implementation of the counter insurgency campaign.
“Participants will be exposed to international human right laws, norms and principles to enable them conduct their operations in accordance with international best practices.
“The insurgents live within us and there is hardly a clear drawn battle line between the insurgents and civilian population.
“Therefore, there is an extreme need to prosecute the insurgency operations to win the heart and minds of the civilian population.
“It underscores the importance of the training, to not only reduce the casualty level, but also reduce humanitarian consequences of displacement and other protection challenges arising,” he said.
Ojukwu lauded the military and other security agencies over the successes recorded in the counter insurgency campaign.
UNHCR’s representative, Bilkisuwa Malaika, added that the exercise was also designed to promote experience and knowledge sharing to build the capacity of personnel in the protection of human right laws.
“UNHCR recognized the critical role played by security actors in the humanitarian response, especially in ensuring that civilians are protected at all times.
“I call on you to use the skills and knowledge acquired to serve the people of concern in your respective areas.
“You should also know that whoever is serving humanity, is serving God. We hope that peace returns to the region so that men and women will return to their homes and live with dignity,” she said.
Speaking, Brig-Gen. Bulama Biu, the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division and Commander Sector 1 Operation Lafiya Dole, described the gesture as commendable.
Biu noted that the training exercise would go a long way to strengthen and encourage adherence to the rules of engagement.
It will be recalled that the training programme was initiated in 2015; and being implemented annually in partnership between the NHRC and UNHCR in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.