…reels out reviewed rules of engagement
By OKOSUN OKHUELEIGBE
Nigerian Army (NA) on Monday warned the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who are agitating for secession to desist from such threat to national security as the Army is ready to flush out every element that threatens peace in the country.
While announcing the reviewed Army Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Internal Security Operations at a press conference held at the Officers mess Marina, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Isidore Edet said it became very important to remind Nigerians that the NA would continue to defend its citizens but will not compromise any action that impedes on national peace.
Gen Edet explained that Nigeria had fought civil war and is yet to overcome the consequences of the war and as such will not tolerate any person or group of persons that are talking about the dismemberment of the country.
He said Nigerian Army would apply the rules of engagement to the letter on anybody “specifically those threatening and agitating for the dismemberment of the country, committing treasonable felony and arson adding that anybody that make any mistake, within the ambit of the law” will not be spared.
He averred that the NA will not hesitate to apply the rule of engagement against any person who threatens the peace of the nation stressing that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to a peaceful protest but should be within the ambits of the law. When such protest lead to bringing down law and order, we are obligated by the Constitution to protect lives and properties of Nigerians and foreigners.”
While reeling out the 11-point reviewed Rules of Engagement, he said under Section 217 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which empowers the army to suppress any insurrection, and based on observed short comings especially negligence and outright ignorance by troops deployed for Operation MESA and other Internal Security (IS) operations, necessitated the need to remind Nigerians about ROE and Code of Conduct.
Gen Edet added that the ROE and Code of Conduct set out the circumstances and limitations under which force may be applied to achieve military objectives.
Among the rules of engagement include “The use of lethal force shall only be resorted to if other means to control the situation have failed or in case of unexpected attack or suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack during which a delay could lead to loss of life or serious injury to personnel.
The GOC further pointed out that “the decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commander, unless there is insufficient time to obtain such order. Fire may be opened to forcefully stop any vehicle that fails to stop at a check point or road block when ordered to stop for search.
On the insinuation that the South West might be attacked by renegade of Boko Haram dislodged from the North East, the GOC reiterated the determination of the Army to protect lives and protect saying that “there is absolutely no reason for anybody to express fear in Lagos and South West.
“We have arrested many of Boko Haram insurgents in the last one month and we can’t disclose the details here. They are in the custody as investigation continues. Certain members of terrorist that have been dislodged from the northeast and running to every part of the country disguising as traders and construction workers are been trailed.
Reacting to whether plans are on for the division to deploy its personnel, Gen Edet said they are not deploying men now but “We cannot wait, fold our hands until police is overwhelmed. I am obligated to be ready at all times to support. We working round the clock to ensure that Boko Haram do not come and have a Safe Heaven in Lagos or any part of the country. No cause for alarm,” he enthused.
Gen Edet emphasized that officers and soldiers of the army have been sufficiently warned not to take sides in any conflict noting that anyone found to do so would “face the consequences of their actions.
Also any army personnel found to be aiding and abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct” will not escape the wrath of the law.