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State actors created ‘unknown gunmen,’ HURIWA suggests

By Ernest Nzor, Abuja
08 September 2022   |   5:06 am
HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), yesterday, suggested that pervasive and intractable violations of rules of engagement by armed security forces are fundamental origin of the phenomenon of ‘unknown gunmen’ and the attacks on strategic national security assets in parts of Southern Nigeria. HURIWA spoke against the backdrop of the alleged armed invasion by…

Image for illustration purposes only, depicting gunmen.

HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), yesterday, suggested that pervasive and intractable violations of rules of engagement by armed security forces are fundamental origin of the phenomenon of ‘unknown gunmen’ and the attacks on strategic national security assets in parts of Southern Nigeria.

HURIWA spoke against the backdrop of the alleged armed invasion by Nigerian Army in Rivers community to avenge killing of colleagues by hoodlums.

According to the rights group, much as there is no lawful justification for the emergence of ‘unknown gunmen’ or attacks targeting armed security operatives, it is not impossible that fear of extra-legal executions of civilians by armed security operatives gave rise to the phenomenon of ‘unknown gunmen.’

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, lamented that for years, soldiers and police operatives responsible for illegal executions of detainees in their facilities have often enjoyed official protection, which is a breach of established legal rules of engagement, which are binding on the armed security forces carrying out internal security operations across the country.

HURIWA is advocating that security chiefs and relevant government agencies should ensure that murderers in military or police uniforms are brought to justice.

The rights group noted that violations of statutory rules of engagement for internal security operations should be seen as a serious crime for which violators must be penalised.

The group further noted that if this is not done and seen to have been done, those who have lost loved ones may inevitably decide to take laws into their hands, and this could result to anarchy.

HURIWA cited section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution and section (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 as laws that grounded and provide code of conduct, as well as rules of engagement for the armed forces in internal security, which are constitutionally binding.

Based on these provisions, HURIWA insisted that no officer or soldier must be found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct; and troops are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they are deployed.

Besides, section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that Nigeria’s armed forces 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.

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