The Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) International has solicited the support of the Nigerian Army to carry out humanitarian services of providing free medical assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North East.MSF president, Mr Kristos Christu, made the call when he led members of his delegation to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, at the Army Headquarters, Abuja.
He said the call became necessary especially as its workers still operate in the North East amid insurgency threats to demonstrate their commitment and passion to the people
He said the MSF, also known as doctors without border, started operations in Nigeria in 1996, adding that their medical contribution has been substantial over the years: “The organisation has helped thousands of pregnant mothers with safe delivery and treated several medical diseases including Lassa fever in the 36 states of the federation.” Buratai urged the organisation to devise new strategies of reaching out to displaced persons in the North East and other conflict zones in the country. Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP), Lieutenant-General Lamidi Adeosun, Buratai, commended the MSF in alleviating the suffering of IDPs and providing them medical needs in not just Nigeria, but other other war-ravaged countries. He charged MSF to carry out its responsibilities impartially and neutrally, even as he told them to ensure they operate with understanding and caution so as not to endanger lives of their aid workers.
AU-ESCC partners Army on civil-military relations
The African Union–Economic Social and Cultural Council (AUESCC), has declared its readiness to work with the Nigerian Army on civil-military relations, improving internal security and welfare of its officers and men.
The organisation also declared its willingness to assist the army in the areas of training and empowerment of youths in the North East, saying it has lots of activities and programmes to offer.
AUESCC representative, Dr Tunji Asaolu, gave the assurance while on a visit with members of the organisation on the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, in Abuja.
He said the partnership would go a long way in fostering good civil-military relations in prosecuting the on-going counter insurgency in the North East and improve the welfare of personnel.
He condemned the allegation by Amnesty International over rights violation by soldiers, saying the move was being sponsored by foreign agents to destabilise not just the Nigerian Army, but the nation at large.
He told the army chief that his organisation was spearheading the ‘silence the gun’ programme aimed at preventing the proliferation of light weapons and small arms in Africa and solicited the support of the army to achieve its aims.
Buratai described the visit as a morale booster, saying the Nigerian Army has taken some drastic measures in checkmating smuggling of small arms proliferation and human trafficking in the country. He listed some of the measures to include monitoring of borders, mopping up of arms and capturing the national database of small arms and light weapons.
He said the visit would go long way to lift the troops’ confidence, promising army’s support to the AUESCC’s “silencing the gun” programme: “The programme is apt especially at this time when Africa is facing the challenges of arms proliferation.”
He called on the public to support the military in its fight against insurgency and other violent crimes in the country.
Umahi seeks more army formations for South East
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi has called on the Nigerian Army to establish more units in South East particularly in Abakaliki, to curb the wave of insecurity in region. He said his government has already provided the necessary infrastructure for the take-off of the formations if given the approval by the army authorities.
The governor made this known when he visited the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, in Abuja. He said he has made available temporary facilities for the take-off of the barracks.
He commended the contributions of the Nigerian Army in land border disputes and bloody communal conflicts in parts of Ebonyi, Enugu, Benue, Cross River and Benue states in recent times. He also lauded the Army for maintaining neutrality and impartiality before and during the last general elections in Ebonyi and other states in the South East.
He disclosed: “Governors of the South East have resolved to convene a security council meeting in their respective states to decide the number of road blocks and places to be mounted by the Army, Police and other security agencies.
“As the chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF), I have been mandated to convey the gratitude of the SE governors to you and the Army personnel especially those operating in the SE zone.”
Buratai praised him for developmental strides, which he said transformed and engendered peace and mutual cohesion in the state. He also thanked the governor for rehabilitating and reconstructing some roads and other intervention measures at the Nkwagwu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki. He and assured him of the resolve of the Nigerian Army to ensure peace and security in Ebonyi State and other South Eastern states.
He said the Nigerian Army would continue to support the people of Ebonyi State and remain responsive, impartial and professional in the discharge of their constitutional roles in the region and other parts of the country.
Insurgency: Army presents cheques to families of deceased soldiers
The Nigerian Army has presented cheques and other group life assurance benefits to the families of 22 soldiers who died fighting the insurgency war and other security operations in the country. The cheques represented their entitlements from the group life assurance policy of service.
Deputy Director, Welfare, Department of Army Administration, Brigadier-General Isah Abdullahi, said the payment was in addition to the various statutory entitlements of the deceased, which the army had already paid to their families.
He urged them to be careful and judicious in their planning and avoid in fighting among family members so as not to run into financial crisis.
He said the army was committed to the welfare of its officers and soldiers of and their families.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Ukachukwu Chinonso described the deaths of their loved ones at the frontline as painful.
He prayed for the war to come to an end.
We can’t recruit repentant terrorists
The Nigerian Army has debunked rumour making the rounds that it was recruiting some repentant Boko Haram terrorist members into the service.
It said the army as a responsible organisation has strict criteria for recruitment that do not allow people with questionable character and criminal records into its fold.
Coordinator of Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC), Major-General Bamidele Shafa, said: “None of the 280 boys that graduated from the OPSC is recruited into the Nigerian military.
“We have our criteria for recruitment. To be recruited, you must be a Nigerian, must not have been convicted of any offence, and must not have been a member of any proscribed organisation.
“Considering the criteria, none of these boys has been recruited into the military. OPSC just finished its follow-up into the communities and these boys are doing very well. None of them is in the military.
“I want to assure Nigerians that none of these boys has been recruited and I am not sure any one of them will be recruited in the future.”
We have tamed ISWAP, Boko Haram, says Buratai
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, said the Nigerian armed forces have made giant strides in tackling the menace of the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) and the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
He said unlike in the past when the terrorists carried out attacks at will, the situation was no longer the same as troops have been able to tame the terrorists who now carry out attacks on soft targets.
The COAS made this remark at the opening of the Career Planning and Management seminar for officers at the Army Resource Centre, Abuja. He said: “I am glad that we are making giant strides against Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP), in our bid to unhinge the unholy union between them and the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists.”
The seminar, which had as theme: “Career Planning and Management in the Nigerian Army as Means of Sustaining Professionalism and Effectiveness, Responsiveness in the Nigerian Army Operations”, was put together by the Military Secretary, Army.
He said the Nigerian Army’s engagement in counter insurgency operations and other internal security operations necessitated the need to instil good leadership, career planning and develop good human resource management:
“The seminar, targeted at career officers was designed to acquaint them with contemporary approaches to military human resources management to get the best and provide effective leadership to men under their command.”
He charged the commanders and unit commanders to sustain the success so far recorded by troops in the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre and sustain the progress, even as he warned all directives concerning the operations to be strictly followed”
“The seminar will avail you opportunity to understand policies by AHQ on career planning and the part you are expected to play.”
The Military Secretary, Major-General Gabriel Ochigbano, said the seminar was part of the Nigerian Army programme to improve officers’ career planning and development: “The department which hitherto relied on annual reports written on officers noticed a gap in the process hence the annual gathering of young officers nominated from various corps and sisters services became a necessity.”