The Executive Director, Civil Society on Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Musa Rafsanjani, has commended the Nigerian Military for “their noble and sacrificial responsibilities in upholding their mandates by securing the nation both internally and externally.”
Rafsanjani made the commendation at a Civil-Military Relations Accountability forum on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the Nigerian military had a mandate which they had kept up with against all Odds.
‘’We are not here to assess them knowing how very noble and sacrificial their Responsibilities are. We are here to appreciate their efforts thus far and to encourage them,’’ he said.
The executive Director said that the Nigerian Armed forces were saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives, property and the nation against external aggression and to maintain peace and orderliness within its borders.
He noted that there had been meetings initiated by the military to engage civilians in discussions that would further improve civil-military relations.
Rafsanjani said that there had also been engagements initiated by the military in forms of medical outreaches, village square meetings and commissioning of schools for civilians.
“However, it is said that in every twelve there is a Judas.
“The military is not oblivious of the fact that within their midst they have personnel who by their conduct destroy the efforts made at building good civil-military relations and have put mechanisms in place to address such,’’ he said.
The executive director expressed optimism that at the end of the forum, participants would be further enlightened and be in a better position to enlighten others on the mechanisms deployed in addressing human rights complaints internally.
‘’This forum will improve citizens’ awareness on the availability of redress mechanisms for reporting complaints against security actors,’’ he said.
On its part, the CLEEN foundation, a civil right group, said there was need to strengthen civil-military relations through sustained dialogues and improved understanding between the military and civilians.
Its Executive Director, Dr Benson Olugbuo, stated at the forum that the issues surrounding improvement in accountability, security and respect for human rights in Nigeria could not be over-emphasised.
‘’The relations between the security personnel and civil society continues to be fraught with mistrust, tension, limited interaction and fear.
Olugbuo said that there had been an increased focus by Nigerians and international communities to spotlight the accountability mechanisms set up by security agencies to address citizens’ complaints that bordered on human rights abuses.
‘’Currently, one of such recent platforms is the Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU) set up in 2015 by the Nigeria Police Force to address complaints from the public as it concerns Police Officers.
‘’The Nigerian Army equally, has also established a Human Rights Desk within the Directorate of Civil Military Affairs in early 2016 and a Call Centre to receive complaints against Army personnel.
‘’Other security agencies also have some internal procedures for holding personnel accountable for actions/inactions,’’ he noted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CMR Accountability Forum is a part of CLEEN foundation’s activities for ‘Fostering Civil Military Relations’ Project funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Similarly, retired Air Commodore Darlinton Abdullahi, said that strengthening of civil-military relations in Nigeria would improve the framework for accountability by the sector actors.
Abdullahi noted that accountability remained at the core of Nigeria’s democracy.
‘’Enhancing the framework for effective oversight of the security agencies will largely improve the accountability of security actors and service delivery to the citizens that they seek to protect and serve,’’ he said.
He said that both civilians and the military went hand-in-hand to create a positive climate for civil-military relations in Nigeria to improve citizens’ confidence in the security institutions.(NAN)