Abuja - The Nigerian Army has warned the public against making unguarded utterances about its conduct in internal security operations.
The warning is contained in a statement issued by the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman.
It said commanders and troops involved in such operations were guided by the Nigerian Army Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Internal Security Operations in aid of civil authority.
The statement said it was necessary to remind the public, and indeed, military personnel about the existence of such regulations to avoid any violations.
It noted the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the Armed Forces of Nigeria shall suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon to do so by the president.
Also read: Army chief warns troops against complacency
The Army said the provision had been reinforced by the Armed Forces Act of 2004 which justified the use of necessary force by troops to contain crisis resulting in deaths, injury and damage to property.
"The Nigerian Army would like to send an unequivocal warning to all and sundry, more specifically to all those threatening and agitating for the dismemberment of the country,’’ the statement said.
It identified such persons as those committing treasonable felony and arson, as well as wanton destruction of lives and properties and added "once deployed, we shall apply the rules of engagement to the letter.
"It is, however, hoped that such circumstances would not arise that we should be deployed on such operations, because, let nobody make any mistake, within the ambit of the law, we shall apply the rules to the fullest.
"The public is hereby informed that officers and soldiers have been warned not to take sides in any conflict and if found wanting would face the consequences of their actions.’’
It said that any officer or soldier found aiding or abetting any act of arson, vandalism or unprofessional conduct, would be severely dealt with according to the extant laws.
The Army said all its operations would continue to be guided by the rules and stressed that it was inexcusable for troops to stand aside and watch security situation deteriorate.
The statement said troops were duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they were deployed to.
It said such intervention should, however, be based strictly on sound judgement and within the ambit of the Code of Conduct for Operations while exhibiting good professional ethics.