Lagos - The Nigerian Army on Monday said it would apply its rules of engagement (ROE) to the letter as it unequivocally warned people agitating for and threatening the dismemberment of the country.
Isidore Edet, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division of the army, gave the warning while speaking with journalists at the Officers Mess in Lagos.
Isidore said the Nigerian Army would like to send an unequivocal warning to all and sundry and more specifically, to all those threatening and agitating for the dismemberment of the country.
"Committing treasonable felony and arson, as well as wanton destruction of lives and properties that once deployed, we shall apply the ROE to the letter.
"It is, however, hoped that such circumstances would not arise that we should deploy such operations.
"Let nobody make any mistake because within the ambit of the law, we shall apply the ROE to the fullest," he said.
"The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 1999 (as amended) vide Sect 217 (2) (c) provides that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) shall suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon to do so by the President and Commander-in-Chief.
"This provision is reinforced by Sect (8) (1) and (3) of the Armed Forces Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (LFN) 2004.
"This presupposes that troops have to use necessary force to quell crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damages to property," he said.
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The GOC also said that consequent upon the observed shortcomings, especially negligence and outright ignorance displayed by troops deployed for Operation MESA and other Internal Security (IS) Operations.
"It is necessary to remind all about the Nigerian Army’s ROE and Code of Conduct for such operations in aid of civil authority for public knowledge and understanding.
"The ROE and Code of Conduct set out the circumstances and limitations under which armed force may be applied to achieve military objectives in furtherance of government policy within Operation MESA and other IS Operations.
"Once deployed on any IS operations, it is the duty of an officer or soldier to ensure the enforcement of law and order in conjunction with other security agencies.
"It is inexcusable for troops to stand aside and watch the security situation deteriorate leading to loss of lives or damage to property without intervening.
"Such intervention should, however, be based strictly on sound judgment," Isidore said.
The GOC also said that officers and soldiers had been warned not to take sides in any conflict, adding that those found wanting would face the consequences of their actions.
"Any officer or soldier found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct, would be severely dealt with according to extant laws," he said.
While talking about the Boko Haram insurgency, the GOC assured residents of Lagos State that the army was working round the clock to monitor and protect them.
He added that some arrests had been made which, he said, could not be disclosed.
"We cannot disclose the details yet but we are working round the clock to ensure that Boko Haram does not have a safe haven in Lagos or southwest or any part of the country.
"There is no cause for alarm and there is no need for Lagosians to fear," he said.