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.
1. 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, 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 properties.
2. Consequent upon this and the observed short comings especially negligence and outright ignorance displayed by troops deployed for Operation MESA and other Internal Security (IS) Operations it was necessary to remind all about the Nigerian Army Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Code of Conduct for such operations in aid of civil authority for public knowledge and understanding. For the avoidance of doubt, 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.
3. In the ROE, once deployed on any IS operation, it is the duty of an officer or soldier to ensure the enforcement of law and order in conjunction with other security agencies. Troops are duty bound to intervene in any situation to avoid a breakdown in peace, stability or law and order of an area where they are deployed. 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 judgement and within the ambit of the code of conduct for IS Operations while exhibiting good professional ethics.
4. For the avoidance of doubt, the ROE for Operation MESA and other IS Operations are as follows:
a. Principle of minimum force and proportionality must be applied at all times.
b. Whenever operational situation permits, every reasonable effort shall be made to control the situation through measures short of using force, including personal contact and negotiations.
c. The use of lethal force shall only be resorted to if all other means to control the situation have failed or in case of unexpected attack or suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack during which a delay could lead to loss of life or serious injury to personnel.
d. Any force applied must be limited in its intensity and duration; it must also be commensurate with the level of threat posed.
e. Force shall be used only when absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate aim.
f. The decision to open fire shall be made only on orders and under the control of on-scene commander, unless there is insufficient time to obtain such order. Fire can however be opened if the life of a soldier, any law abiding member of the public and/or property of which it is our duty to protect is in grave danger.
g. Fire must be aimed and controlled. Indiscriminate firing is not permitted.
h. Fire may be opened to forcefully stop any vehicle that fails to stop at a checkpoint or road block when ordered to stop for search.
i. Automatic fire will only be opened as a last resort.
j. Avoid collateral damage.
k. After fire has ceased, render medical assistance and record details of incident both in writing and using audio/visual equipment whether or not casualty has been recorded.
l. Whenever in doubt, seek clarification from higher headquarters.
5. Therefore, 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, 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 be deployed on such operations, because let nobody make any mistake, within the ambit of the law, we shall apply the ROE to the fullest.
6. 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. 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.