The AGF says Nigerian security personnel have made considerable achievements in terms of containing terrorism.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, on Monday said that more than 40 Boko Haram members had been convicted for terrorism-related crimes.
Mr. Adoke made this known at the opening of an International seminar on the Observance of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Internal Security Operations in Abuja.
The seminar, declared open by President Goodluck Jonathan, was co-hosted by the Office of the Attorney-General and the Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA.
Mr. Adoke said the considerable achievements of government had been made possible through the prosecution of members of the sect under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 as amended in 2013. He commended the roles of members of the armed forces and other law enforcement agencies in containing terrorism and other related crises in the country.
The outlawed Boko Haram sect is responsible for the death of thousands of people in various attacks in Northern Nigeria. The federal government last year declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states- Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe- considered the major base of the sect. The emergency rule is still on in those states.
Mr. Adoke said the seminar was to sensitise the participants, particularly members of the armed forces to comply with relevant human rights and international humanitarian laws and norms during internal security operations.
Mr. Adoke said that the military has been effective in maintaining law and order and restoring normalcy to many crises areas in the country.
He said the intervention sometimes attracts negative reactions from affected communities on accounts of loss of lives and alleged use of excessive force.
Mr. Adoke recalled the incidence in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue), both in 2001, where damages were awarded against Nigeria in billions of Naira by the International Criminal Court, ICC.
“Allegations of human rights abuses and non-adherence to applicable rules of engagement levelled against those involved in quelling crises coupled with adverse reports from human rights advocates have tended to put the country on the spotlight in the international community.
“The sad events that occurred in Odi in Bayelsa in 2001 and Zaki Biam in Benue, also in 2001 led to the award of damages against the Federal Government.
“The court awarded N37 billion against the Federal Government in respect of Odi incident and N42 billion for the Zaki Biam incident, which was later negotiated to N8 billion naira.
“The unpleasant consequences of the extra-judicial killing of Mallam Yusuf Mohammed, leader of the Boko Haram sect in Borno in 2009, still reverberate in the polity despite the N100 million compensation that the courts ordered government to pay to the deceased’s family.
“The point being made is that government can ill-afford to bear these huge financial liabilities in the face of increasing responsibilities and dwindling resources,” he said.
Mr. Adoke also made reference to the criticism that trailed the deployment of troops to the trouble North-East states and the Baga incidence in Borno.
He said the civil disturbances in the central, Kaduna, Plateau, the militancy in the Niger Delta, and the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram had been under preliminary analysis by the ICC.
“The prosecutor’s report of August 5, 2013, established that the Boko Haram sect was carrying out crimes against humanity as prescribed under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC, particularly murder and persecution.
“The prosecutor has since proceeded to the admissibility stage of determining whether Nigeria is `willing and able’ to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes,” he said.
Mr. Adoke, therefore, declared that government would continue to take steps necessary at discharging its primary responsibilities of ensuring the security and welfare of the people.
He charged members of the armed forces and other security agencies to ensure that they discharge their duties within the confine of the laws and norms.
“As Attorney General, I am particularly concerned about the way and manner members of the armed forces discharge their responsibilities within the context of our current security challenges.
“I wish to reaffirm government’s determination to hold members of the armed forces as well as other security forces to the highest professional and ethical standards.
“They must adhere strictly to applicable rules of engagements and eschew act of impunity.
“I am pleased to observe that relevant human rights and international humanitarian law norms are mainstreamed in your curriculum and training manuals.
“I, therefore, wish to caution that any member of the armed forces found wanting in the observance of applicable rules of engagement during internal security operations would be held accountable.
“Military authorities should, therefore, ensure their officers and men are appropriately sensitised to ensure compliance,” he said.
The attorney general enjoined the military high command to take steps to further institutionalise the norms of civil engagement in all their operations to avoid unpleasant consequences.