The use of phones when approaching a military checkpoint is wrong because it is a security loophole, Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Major-General Usman Mohammed said on Monday.
Major-General Mohammed was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily when he was asked why the military frowns on motorists using their phones while approaching a checkpoint.
“It is a security measure for when you are approaching a checkpoint,” he said, “you don’t make phone calls. Because the tendency is that if you are making a phone call, you might be communicating with some bad guys. Or you may use that particular device to set up some certain devices.
“It is a general convention; it is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is everywhere; people who have travelled abroad know that you don’t make phone calls when approaching a checkpoint.”
Meanwhile, the Major-General stressed that relations between the military and civilians were improving.
He also noted that while human rights violations have not been eliminated, the military is working assiduously to limit such crimes.
“We soldiers are part of the society,” he said. “We didn’t fall from the sky. We are a product of the society in which we are operating. Where you have one or two individuals behaving differently from what the military stands for, you don’t say everybody is abusing human rights.
“Where those occur, we identify those individuals, investigate and sanctions are applied.
“But generally, we are doing a lot in terms of educating our personnel, and also we are instituting measures to ensure that human rights violations are reduced to the barest minimum.”
The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, has stated that the military outfit is tirelessly rendering support to myriads of Humanitarian Agencies, to alleviate the sufferings of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other locals in a bid to win the peace and restore development in the region.
General Irabor made this disclosure during a meeting with the Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Omar Abdi, who led a four-man delegation to the Headquarters Theatre Command on Wednesday.
Describing UNICEF as a household name in Nigeria, the Theatre Commander further stated that the military outfit regularly interfaces with UNICEF and other Humanitarian Agencies through its Civil-Military Affairs Department, to facilitate their activities in the North East.
Irabor called on UNICEF to strengthen developmental infrastructures such as medical and educational facilities in the localities, to enable those IDPs who had returned to their communities have access to health and educational infrastructures.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, commended the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole for a successful campaign against terrorism, cataloged the objectives of UNICEF in the North East to include concerns for life saving activities, humanitarian activities, nutritional health, education and protection of children.
He expressed the desire of the international body to expand its humanitarian activities to those areas where the body is yet to access.
However, he added that the support of Operation Lafiya Dole is very crucial to the expansion.
Amnesty International is accusing the Nigerian military of excessive use of force and violation of fundamental human rights while prosecuting the anti-terrorism crusade in the north eastern part of Nigeria.
The agency’s Country Director, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, said that some innocent civilians have either been harassed or detained unlawfully by the military across the country.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Civil Military affairs, Major General Rogers Nicholas says the accusations are baseless as the Army continues to ensure that professionalism is maintained as it discharges its constitutional duties to the state.
The Nigerian Army has been in the forefront in the war against Boko Haram in the northeast as well as other forms of uprising in other parts of the country.
Although major successes have been recorded against the insurgents, Amnesty International said that this successes are not without some violations of human rights.
The office of the Civil Military Affairs was recently established to address issues arising from the military’s relationships with civilians as well as complaints about alleged human rights violation.
The Nigerian Army is set to close some markets in Borno and Yobe states identified for engaging in illegal trade.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman said that the measure is to curtail illicit trading and smuggling in the northeast.
Also speaking at the news conference, the Chief of Civil Military Affairs, Major General Nicholas Rogers added that the Nigerian Army is collaborating with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure thorough search of vehicles and commuters and arrest anyone in possession of arms and ammunitions.