The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed on Monday said the military remains a critical institution for the success of any democratic government.
He stated Nigeria would continue to appreciate its military for the sacrifices it made to keep the country united.
Delivering a keynote address at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Abuja, during the opening of the 2019 Edition of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Retreat for NAF Officers, Justice Mohammed said the military deserves public support for its efforts in supporting democratic institutions during elections and for maintaining peace and order during internal operations.
He however cautioned that it was imperative for the military to operate within the ambit of the law while going about its kinetic and non-kinetic operations to avoid criticism within and outside the country.
Mohammed, who lauded the NAF for supporting INEC to airlift its personnel and electoral materials across the country during the 2019 general elections, noted that such efforts as well as NAF medical outreaches and provision of succour to flood victims cannot go unappreciated.
According to him: “More recently your role in moving logistics and electoral personnel did not also go unnoticed. Such Support no doubt increases public support which is key to the success of ongoing counter insurgency operations all over the country.
“I want to reiterate that considering the asymmetric nature of the type of war we now engage in, the military cannot function without public support.
“If we juxtapose this with the increasing focus and criticism of military operations at both local and international levels, the needs to act within the laws during military operations therefore become undeniably imperative.”
Chief of the Air Staff, (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, dismissed as untrue insinuations NAF fighter Pilots dropped bombs selectively during its air operations thereby commiting infractions against citizens and violating their rights.
Air Marshal Abubakar said the retreat was organised to bring stakeholders together in a way that they would interact with NAF Legal Officers, and fighter pilots to enhance their operations for better delivery of service.
The CAS said: ” The NAF relies on our Legal Services Directorate in navigating the legal waters which sometimes become turbulent as a consequence of the strict requirements for the military to adhere to LOAC.
“It is no longer news that several reports by Non-Governmental Organisations have alleged grave violations of international laws and human rights by the Nigerian military.
“Some people have gone to the ridiculous extent of accusing NAF fighter pilots flying at 300km per hour of selectively attacking farmers as targets while sparing herdsmen in Numan.
“Others have alleged that bombs were dropped in villages, killing civilians and burning thatched roofs of their homes but sparing mud structures of the houses.
“Unfortunately, these mostly unverified allegations have overtime portrayed the military in bad light and have, as well, impacted negatively on our fight against insurgency.
“While most of the allegations are untrue, they nevertheless caused mistrust between the military and civil populace, while also affecting relations between Nigeria and some of its allies.
“It is for this reason that we continue to reiterate the importance of adhering to LOAC during military operations.”