The Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, has said the Ministry of Defence is an oversight agency for the military and is not involved in its operations.
Mr Olonisakin, made the clarification in Abuja on Monday at a “policy brief dissemination on counter-terrorism legislation in Nigeria’’.
He was represented by the Director Civil Military Relations, Defence Headquarters, AVM A.A. Kasimu
The event which was organised by Cleen Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), focused on key findings and recommendations from its survey findings.
“The Ministry of Defence is an oversight agency for the military; it is not directly involved in the operations of the military.
“For the operational part of the military, it is the defence headquarters that is saddled with such responsibility. The defence headquarters is in charge and civil-military relation is a line of its operation.
“The ministry of defence runs its own program and is not directly involved in military operations,’’ he said.
He however, noted that the army, the navy and air force, all work for the defence headquarters.
Mr Olonisakin said that the ministry of defence was the grand strategic level with authority to oversee the military.
He, however, said that both arms of defence would work towards building a healthy relationship between civilians and the military.
Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), lauded the government for the introduction of the National Security Strategy, National Cyber Security Strategy and the Terrorism Prevention Act.
Mr Ojukwu, represented by the Head Monitoring Department, NHRC, Mr Benedict Agu, said that the policies and strategies were efforts put in place to boost the role of federal agencies to be more `human security focused’.
He reiterated the commitment of NHRC to institutionalise respect for human rights and the rule of law and to create an enabling environment for extra-judicial recognition.
This, he said, was through the promotion and enforcement of all rights recognised and enshrined in the constitution and other human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a party.
“The National Human Rights Commission is involved in the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) programme that is coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser for the benefit of all.
“The collaborative effort of the NHRC with other partners would foster civil-military relations in Nigeria.
“We also believe that to ensure that there is respect for the rights of Nigerians by security agencies in the war against terrorism currently ongoing in different parts of Nigeria.
“The PCVE legislation would improve human rights compliance in countering violent extremism in Nigeria especially through the review of government Counter Terrorism laws and strategies,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Director of Cleen Foundation, Benson Olugbuo, called for a quick review of the nations’ counter-insurgency laws to address the challenge especially in the north-eastern part of the country.
Mr Olugbuo said that in working to promote public safety and human rights, there was a need for the government to review the laws addressing insurgency.
He said that the appeal was coming as a result of its survey findings on human rights violations in countering violent extremism in Nigeria.
“The state counter-insurgency approach in the fight against Boko Haram terrorist group has contributed to huge human rights violation in communities where attacks are taking place.
“In line with addressing these survey findings, we have produced a policy brief and we are appealing to the ninth Assembly to revisit issues surrounding these legislations,” he said.
He said that the foundation found out that there was a great distrust among the security agencies involved in combating terrorism in Nigeria and the citizens.
According to him, this hinder intelligence gathering needed to nip the menace in the bud.
Mr Olugbuo noted that the impact of human right abuses on the citizens within the communities engulfed in the insurgency war had created fear among citizens.
This, he said, had led to a gap in information gathering, especially among the abused and the relevant agencies that could save or salvage the situation.