BOKO HARAM: DEFENCE MINISTER CHARGES SOLDIERS TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT
The Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed, yesterday charged members of the Nigerian armed forces to exercise restraint in their operations in tackling the current security challenges in the country. He said there was need for military personnel on internal security operations in some parts of the country to be cautious while discharging their constitutional responsibilities.
The minister who gave the charge while declaring open the 2011 Nigeria Army Law Seminar holding in Abuja, told the military lawyers that upon his assumption of office, he found out there were avalanches of 'default and negative judgment against members of the armed forces' and called for what he described as 'more care from all armed forces personnel.'
Mohammed, who was represented by the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, at the occasion, pointed out that the idea of reforming the army law in accordance with the trend of times and in the light of the current security challenges facing the country was a welcome development, said, 'if the military reforms its law and is able to meet contemporary challenges, then my job as the minister of defence would have been easier.'
The minister noted that the theme of the seminar, 'Military Law Reform to Enable the Nigerian Army Meet Contemporary Challenges,'' was in tandem with the reform agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying, 'it is heart warning to note that the Nigerian armed forces are getting used to the observance of the rule of law and thereby subjecting themselves to civil authority as required by the laws of the land.'
According to him, law was dynamic and would fail to assist the society for which it was made if it did not address the realities of the times.
Earlier in his address, the Chief pf Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika, said for laws to effectively remain the instrument of social change, they should continue to reflect the dynamism of human society.
Ihejirika, who said the theme of the 2011 Army Legal Seminar was in reflection of the desire of military high command to constantly review and update some of its laws to address contemporary challenges, said it was heartwarming to note that the Nigerian armed forces were getting used to the observance of the rule of law and at the same time subjecting themselves to civil authority as required by the laws of the land.
On the use of force by the military in their operations in quelling crisis, Gen. Ihejirika, pointed out that 'the best way to manage internal security challenges was through pre-emptive actions'.
According to him, “Once you have early waning and the matter is beyond what the police can deal with, the military should move in early enough to pre-empt further crises. It is not the desire of Commanders or Government to use force against their people
“Persuation and dialogue is always preferred but in certain situations if you do not use force immediately it is required, you will up using far more force to control the situation'' he said.
He further stated that the use of force to quell crisis was imperative as some of the perpetrators of current security crisis in some parts of the country were armed with sophisticated weapons like rocket launchers and AK 47 unlike in the past when such perpetrators would disperse as soon as they sight members of the military in their gears.