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Senators react:amnesty intl1

The war against Boko Haram has received a punch by the Amnesty International (AI) which has released a report indicting the Nigerian in which it accused the military of human rights abuses in executing the war against terror. This is just as the United States is foreclosing the possibility of arms sale to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram citing the LEAHY ACT which placed Arms embargo on Nigeria and other countries over poor human rights record during the military era.

This report is seen as a depressant to the morale of the soldiers doing battle but Nigerian Senators have taken exception to the A I report coming on the heels of appointment of new service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari while proposing a parliamentary interface between Nigerian parliament and the U.S Congress to negotiate around the leahy act and lift the ban on the arms embargo placed on Nigeria to facilitate the war on terror. Read:

Senator Rafiu Adebayor Ibrahim, Kwara-South

We can see that President Buhari has started discussion in that regard particularly at his last visit to the United States which was followed up by the U.S Congress men to Nigeria who met other Nigerian government officials. It will be very appropriate for the U.S Congress and the Nigerian Senate to open discussion on this subject at parliamentary level.

I believe Nigeria was lumped and categorized with other countries and if you carry out an analytic review of the fight against insurgency today, Nigeria should be off that list.

Regarding the appointment of new service chiefs, I believe they will deliver; I normally give people benefit of the doubt and these men being chosen by Mr. President who understands the terrain, who knows the job himself as a former military General, I believe his choice should be right and from the caliber of individuals so appointed and based on their interaction with the Senate, we believe they shall do a better job coming from the experience of their predecessors.”

Senator Mohammed Adamu Aliero-Kebbi-Central.

“Let me say that the senate strongly supports Mr. President in his bid to stop insurgency in this country and for that reason whatever move he takes in order to execute this war against insurgency we are behind him, we will give him all the legislative support he requires to ensure that we stamp out insurgency in Nigeria for that reason if he approaches the North-East States and if he brings any request for the purchase of arms we will back him up and we will pass it expeditiously, and if it sending parliamentary delegation to US congress we will do that. The war on terror is a war that must be won and all hands must be on deck to ensure that we win this war, if we don’t win, God forbid, forget about Nigeria.              

As per the Service Chiefs, they are well prepared to wage war against insurgency, they are very much combat ready to ensure that we stamp out Boko-Haram and all other forms of insurgency in the country whether in Niger-Delta or in the North Eastern part of Nigeria or even in the Middle-Belt of Nigeria. We are not in doubt of their capability to wage war and stamp out instability in this country. They have all it takes professionally, and the only issue is how to secure arms; and the issue of arms in terms of money, Mr. President has promised he will provide them with the logistics and administrative support.”

Senator Fatimat Raji Rasaki- Ekiti Central

“Well, Nigeria is a democracy just like the United States and both Countries have enjoyed cordial diplomatic ties and as such, it shouldn’t be very difficult to sort these issues out, all things being equal. Secondly, the allegations by the Amnesty International regarding human rights violation by our Armed Forces is unfounded; Nigeria cannot fold its arms and watch disgruntled citizens wage war against it, no way!

Parliamentary collaboration between us can come to the rescue as I propose resources and information sharing and constructive engagement between us; they should assist us in the end and timely so.

Regarding the ability of the newly elected service chiefs, I have no doubt that they will deliver; the chief of Army Staff was my husband’s A D C and very competent, diligent and articulate and knows his job. I think he and others will deliver.”

Senator Theodore Orji- Abia Central

“Those allegations are not verifiable and I don’t believe that the Nigerian Army was involved in such crime. I don’t believe that and many of us do not also believe that except we have verifiable evidence to prove otherwise.

The Nigerian Army does not misuse arms; those who misuse arms are members of the Boko- Haram sect and other terror groups as they source their arms through illicit routes. Every Arms used by the Nigerian Army is legally acquired and used to protect the territorial integrity of our nation and therefore, I would suggest and subscribe to the interface between the Nigerian Senate and the United States Congress to find areas of assistance in terms of lifting the ban on the embargo placed on Nigeria in terms of Arms acquisition and I’ am sure that is one of the issues President Muhammadu Buhari discussed when he went to the United States.

We are interested in that because insurgency is our biggest problem right and you will be surprised that those insurgents have sophisticated weapons and that is why they are progressing in terms of destroying human lives so, if we have superior armament, we will overcome.

As per the newly appointed service chiefs, they are men that have made their marks in their chosen career and diligently chosen by the President and Commander in chief and we believe that they will do well”.  

Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ekiti- South, Senatorial District

“I’m sure that the Senate must definitely have input into it. The reason been that the laws are coming from the parliaments of the United States and they cannot come here, and we cannot domicile them except they also go through the parliaments here in Nigeria. And that’s the reason why all we are doing must be properly grounded and grounding means coming to the senate, coming to the National Assembly and laws enacted to make them fully Nigerian and domesticated.

What America is doing now is what they should have done before. Because you see when we are fighting a war like that of the Boko Haram, it’s a war that doesn’t have boarders and it’s a war you are fighting and you don’t see the other person and so they should know that there cannot but be slight infringement but I believe that no Army, not the Nigerian Army would have gone and done anything out of the box in that situation.

Fortunately, we now have service Chiefs they all are very capable; they are young, they are vibrant they have what it takes to do a 3600 return to sanity and we know that they will do it this time around. This time around the Senate is going to do its oversight on every one of them on all the issues so that they keep to their promises to the tenets of the country and also to the spirit of our constitution. I know they will do well and I know that we will compel them to do well for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Olusola Adeyeye: Osun Central, APC:

“When accusation is made against any entity in any part of the world, more so in the U.S.A that entity has a right to defend itself. I’m not aware of the specific charges against the Nigeria Military. I think it is up to the Nigeria military to go to the U.S.A, and defend its own record. If there have been abuses of human rights then quite frankly we should own up to them and correct our behaviour and if there have not been we should deny them and hope that we can produce evidence to debunk whatever accusation have been made against our military.

As to whether or not the US government will prohibit the Nigeria military from getting arms from its own country, that’s their right.

Fortunately they are not the only country in the world that sells arms; what is more important is we as a democracy must aim at preserving every fundamental right of every Nigerian. Whatever is good for the best democracies of the world must be emulated in Nigeria and whatever bad practice too must be owned up. We know that the police in Nigeria daily abuse the rights of Nigerians, so some of these things are also the normal behaviour in Nigeria. That’s my take on it.

As per the appointment of the new service chiefs, any time you bring a new team you must always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If they were asked questions and they answered truthfully and there is no way you can proof that they were not true, if they made promises then all we can do is hope that they will use their professional experience, background and training to live up to those big promises they made. Things have been bad but it does not mean that they will remain bad and not everyone is corrupt. I remember when the late Mohammed Muritala first came to government, most of them where afraid but within the first 3 days of his government, we knew that we were in for a government of change. So let’s pray that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari providing the lead will encourage this people to do what is right for our republic.”

Senator Chukwuka Otaze- Enugu North Senatorial District (PDP)

“What I have to say about the report of the Amnesty International about human rights abuse. I want to say that the abuse of human rights of any kind of people from any part of this country or world over is condemnable and should be condemned; anybody who decides to infringe on the rights of people in the cause of doing jobs that endangers lives instead of saving should be condemned. It should not be allowed in any part of the world especially in this country, especially in the North-East of this country where we are fighting the insurgency of the Boko-Haram.

But coming down home about amnesty international, I take exception to the way they did their job. Sometimes when you just have to give a dog a bad name in other to condemn it, I don’t believe in that because most of the military that worked in the war ravaged area of the North East took a lot of risk doing their job and they are fighting a faceless group of people who they don’t know. It at the cause of their duty they make mistakes because the people they are fighting are not known, they are not in uniform, they don’t have a location, they don’t have address, if such a thing happens in the cause of a warfare, we will have severe causalities in areas and parts of the world where peace-keeping operations have been done, those people have not been hanged; they’ve not been taken to prison but when people come here, and it becomes such an indictment and it’s politically motivated, I refuse to accept such. So, I take it with a pinch of salt and I feel we have to look at it properly on how to get things done.

Yes, I believe that we have an inter-parliamentary association the I.P.U which the National Assembly of this Federation is part and parcel of. I would expect that naturally, there should be an interface between the United State congress and the Senate. Once we form the Defence committee of the Senate, we expect that we are going into that thing properly with a view to addressing it so that nobody suffers unduly and if Nigeria comes around trying to buy arms with which to fight the insurgents whom we don’t even know the people that are arming them to fight this country, United State should be considerate in allowing Nigeria have such arms but once it is done the way it’s been done now, people would read meaning to it because under the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, he approached them; they refused, he made effort to go to South-Africa, they did everything to thwart it, now that we have a Presidency under President Muhammadu Buhari, they are now trying to turn a new leaf and accept that, people will just give interpretation because it’s the same war that Goodluck Jonathan fought and it’s the same war that President Muhammadu Buhari is fighting. If they believe in this fight, it should not be politicized”.

Senator Mallam Wakili- Bauchi-South (APC).

“On the issue of appointment of the Service Chiefs, we found them mostly as professionals, some of them have indicated and shown that they have what it takes to lead the Armed Forces, rejuvenate the Armed Forces to bring about the desired change through their professionalism, through their antecedents, through some action of the plans that they unveiled to the senate. We have no doubt that we shall see some changes as we have started seeing.

If you look at the operation against Boko-Haram, you can see we are making some recoveries of our land, we are making some inroad into the Boko-Haram territory and some of them have been arrested and routed out, so we are very much assured that they can perform to best of their capability depending on the budget.

They have complained that budgetary provisions in terms of arms procurement have been minimal. So we are going to look into all these holistically to see how we are going to reposition the Armed Forces”.

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