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April 23, 2024
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The Directorate of Legal Services (Army) holds Specialised Training for personnel on Operations of International Criminal Court (ICC) in Abuja on Tuesday (19/3/24)

Army to strengthen military justice system, understanding of ICC operations

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Nigerian Army has taken steps to enhance the capacity of military legal officers to strengthen the military legal system and broaden their understanding of the operations of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, said this at the opening of the Specialised Training of Nigerian Army Personnel on the Operations of the ICC on Tuesday in Abuja.

The training was  organised by the Directorate of Legal Services (Army) in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies,

It has the theme, “Understanding the Rome Statute and Operation of the ICC in Order to Enhance the Efficiency of Security Operations”.

Lagbaja, represented by the Deputy Chief of Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Emekah, said the training was apt in an era where the Nigerian army was entrenched in military operations other than war.

He commended the Director Legal Services for initiating additional steps to meet contemporary expectations of the army and the larger Nigeria society.

According to him, the conduct of war and security operations is regulated by International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.

“The Nigerian Army, as a responsible organisation, takes deliberate and systematic steps to ensure compliance with these rules, regulations, and laws in the conduct of its operations.

“Currently, the ombudsman for the enforcement of these rules is the ICC, which the Nigerian security forces have had and may still have occasions to interact with.

“It is thus of utmost necessity that Nigerian army personnel and personnel of sister services of the armed forces, as well as other relevant security agencies, ministries, and departments, acquire ample knowledge of the operations of the ICC to effectively guide our forces in the execution of their difficult duties,” he said.

The COAS commended the performance of all officers and soldiers on the recent successes in Nigerian military justice system as reflected in a recent General Court Martial sitting, which he added, had been applauded by many Nigerians.

He said the need to identify gaps in the nation’s force structure, training, and strategic approaches to military justice and operational readiness toward combating the challenges, was more imperative now than ever.

According to him, the diverse nature of the contemporary issues require unity of efforts and multi-agency involvement.

“We must, therefore, work towards cross-sectional synergy and the conceptualisation of ideas on the execution of our missions within a joint environment,” he added.

The Director, Legal Services, Maj.-Gen. Seidu Musa, said the workshop was aimed at having trained military personnel who are knowledgeable on the Rome Statute and the operation of the ICC.

Musa said the workshop was to enable knowledge based authoritative interface with the ICC in the course of performing their duties.

He said the ICC was established by the Rome Statute in 1998 and came into effect in 2002 while Nigerian became a party to the Rome Statute after ratification by the National Assembly.

He said the Office of the Prosecutor at ICC had in December 2020 announced the conclusion of its preliminary investigation of Nigerian situation.

According to him, the investigation concluded on the basis that there was sufficient reason to conclude that both Boko Haram and the Nigerian Security Forces (NSF) especially the Nigerian Army (NA) have committed war crimes.

“There is therefore the need for specialised training on its laws and procedures to make this knowledge preponderant.

“Such training will empower army officers and other trainees with the knowledge to interface authoritatively with the ICC and carry out other ancillary tasks from a position of enhance competence and skill based superior knowledge.

“Military Lawyers and Investigators from the army, navy, air force, other security agencies, relevant stakeholders from Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the academia are all present in this training,” he said.

Musa enjoined the participants to utilise the opportunity to enlarge their knowledge on the Rome Statute and the operation of the ICC.

In his remarks. The Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Muhammad Ladan, said the institute believe strongly in national discourse on the question of whether ICC has any credible evidence against Nigeria or not.

Ladan said Nigeria should control the narrative on addressing security challenges, adding that the capacity building workshop was to enable them to see how they could control the narrative on the part of Nigerian military.

He said there has been interventions aimed at constantly reminding the military personnel that even in war situations there must be respect for the rule of law.

The rule of law, according to him, simply means to provide legal constraints and not impede you from carrying out your military operations.

“In the course of military operations there must be respect for rule of law because every war has its own objectives to be achieved.

“In the context of that, the legal constraints are provided such that we are required to simply comply with the minimum benchmark and still achieve our objective,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed

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