•CISLAC, CIVIC advocate legal framework to protect civilians in conflict
Experts on security matters have raised fresh concerns over what they described as “alarming”, the rate of violence and deaths in Nigeria with almost 700 killed and 400 kidnapped in January 2020 alone.
This was brought to the fore in Abuja at the weekend during the one-day ‘Brainstorming Session on Designing Advocacy Strategy Towards the Policy on Protection of Civilians organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with the Centre for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) with support from European Union.
They warned that the intolerable level of criminality, armed conflicts and violence across the country have claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians, while stressing the need for government to take urgent action to stem the tide.
Speaking, the Executive director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said the scale and severity of human suffering in armed conflicts in Nigeria has continued to grow at an alarming pace, explaining that conflicts in the Northeast region alone have killed over 40,000 and displaced millions from their homes, resulting in the population of greatest displacement since the civil war.
Musa said conflict in densely populated areas exacerbate risks to civilians and disrupt livelihoods, education, health systems, and critical infrastructure, creating conditions for severe insecurity and spread of deadly diseases.
To this end, he said the development of legal framework; a national civilian protection policy that would put civilians at the heart of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations and to protect Civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation in Nigeria was important.
Musa added that the draft National policy will provide an opportunity for the state and non-state actors to take into account precautions in the conduct of hostilities.
“It is important we develop legal framework that can deal with human raised disaster we find ourselves. It is important we begin to think of how to protect civilians in conflict”, he said.
He also harped on the need for public participation especially with regards to policy formulation, “As part of Public participation, we don’t have power to make policies, but we are making suggestions, ideas, and recommendations on how to protect our country”.
Also speaking, the Chair National Steering Committee, Partnership Against Violent Extremism (PAVE), Mr. Aye Gaskia, described the number of deaths and crimes in the country was incredible adding that public participation was urgent participation in demanding good governance According to him, in 2019, the country lost 3, 188 persons by mass atrocities alone in 2019, which is an average of 9 persons per day.
Gaskia said: “In January 2020 alone, 396 have been kidnapped and 695 people killed. This clearly shows the urgency of the situation we are in.
“There is supposed to be a law to guarantee safety of civilians and we need to start thinking governance and local governance”.
The chairman House Committee on Army, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, while expressing concerns over crime rate in the country noted that support from the Police is really vital to stem the tide and therefore not necessarily the job of the armed forces alone.
“The issue of crime in Nigeria is alarming, there is no investment with so much return like kidnapping, it is not the armed forces that should be given, we need the police,” Namdas said.