Abuja — An international human rights body has called for strict adherence to both national and international legal frameworks in the fight against extreme violence in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
Speaking at a forum organized by United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), the representative of International Committee of the Red Cross (ACRC), Catherine Gribbin, expressed need for countries engaged in the fight against terrorism to understand the legal regime under which the war is domiciled and adhere to the rules of engagement.
According to her, the military must ensure protection of civilian population, as well as respect rights of the arrested and detained suspected terrorists, as enshrined in international laws treaties.
The two-day national training programme, which was organized in collaboration with the Small Arms Division of the ECOWAS Commission and Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brought together officers of Nigerian Armed Forces, Customs and Immigration, and hinged on the effective implementation of fight against illicit influx of arms in the Lake Chad Basin.
Deputy Director, Political Affairs Officer, UNREC, Dr. Jiaming Miao, expressed fears that illicit proliferation, circulation and misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), have become a widespread phenomenon in the Lake Chad Basin for which Nigeria is part.
He added that the resulting humanitarian crises from the illicit influx of arms have constituted obstacles to socio- economic development and has led to increasing criminal and terrorist acts in Nigeria and neighbouring African countries. "Islamist extremism has been affecting various parts of the African continent, including the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, which are growingly plagued by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram which regularly commit attacks on innocent civilians. "The illicit trafficking of firearms feeds the terrorism and organized crimes; creates severe challenges for peace, security and development.
"Terrorist groups active in Lake Chad Basin countries, such as Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, take advantage of the illicit proliferation, diversion and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition to strengthen their capacities and means of destruction", Dr Miao stated.