BAGA MASSACRE: CISLAC CONDEMNS MILITARY BRUTALITY ON INNOCENT CIVILIANS
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) is worried about the continued violent violation of human rights by the security agencies on innocent Nigerians. The failure of this government to sincerely handle the insecurity and protect Nigerians from violence orchestrated by merchants of violence through Bombings, Armed robbery, kidnapping, communal clashes, political violence, ethno-religious violence and rape, helps to escalate impunity in Nigeria. This is in spite of the huge resources allocated for security sector in Nigeria which runs into trillions of naira, but yet Nigerians face more security challenges.
The recent development of mass massacre in Baga Town of Borno State is very unfortunate and in particular the alleged blocking access of relief materials to the affected victims days after the mayhem is inhumane and amount to siege. Relief workers are yet to be allowed access to Baga town days after the start of the military operations that left at least 200 people dead and so many homes burnt down. The residents said troops fired indiscriminately and set fires at homes in an apparent retaliation over the death of an officer.
CISLAC is of the opinion that there should be a better mutual understanding of cultures and systems between humanitarian aid workers and troops, so as to develop mutual respect. To do this, it would be useful to put in place a programme of strategic and operational discussions at all levels. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Red Cross have raised alarm over its inability to administer humanitarian response to victims which is a total contradiction to the United Nation Protocol on options for responding to such crises. Even in war situations, relief materials are distributed to alleviate the sufferings of the people. It is considered very unprofessional not to accept the opportunity to play a more dynamic role on how to coordinate and respond to emergencies which was created by it (the Army) in the first place.
CISLAC considers this a coercive military intervention, even though a military component of some kind has become increasingly necessary in most crises situation; it must not eclipse and violate rights of civilians. Major humanitarian actors from both within and outside Borno, and its aim at facilitating inter-agency analysis and decision making in response to humanitarian emergencies should not be an issue for negotiation considering that access to food is part of civilian protection.
It must be understood that continuous refusal to provide access humanitarian officials to the victims would further create an outbreak of diseases, hunger and deaths of women and children. We consider this siege an impunity which is unacceptable and a contradiction to the rules of engagement in such situation. We condemn this and call for investigation into the Baga saga.
CISLAC calls on relevant authorities to refrain from the current faceoff in Baga, not as an argument about the ‘right to intervene’ but about the ‘responsibility to protect’ and put in place a proper coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the community to safeguard the lives of people.
CISLAC calls on the authorities to investigate these Army and Police officers involved in this heinous act and ensure that they are not allowed participating in any peacekeeping operations forthwith. These sorts of violations are parts of the image challenges that the nation had suffered over the years from the international community when some Nigerian Army officers were sent for international peace mission.
CISLAC therefore calls on the National Assembly to investigate the trillions of Naira allocated to the executives in the name of security votes, from all indications, insecurity is proving to be a lucrative business which financial appropriation is unaccounted for. This menace has gone on too long and needs to seriously be challenged.
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani