By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOC), one of the organs of the African Union (AU), on Wednesday alleged that western interests are sponsoring Amnesty International to destabilise Nigeria.
The Nigerian Representative of AU-ECOSOC, Mr Tunji Ashaolu, stated this when he led a delegation of the council on a visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Abuja.
Ashaolu said that the Nigerian army and indeed the armed forces had carried out their responsibilities professionally in their counter insurgency operations in the north east.
He added that it was wrong for any group to accuse the army of human right violation having taken cognizance of the fact that the army leadership had established human rights desks in all its formations.
Ashaolu said that African civil societies would no longer fold their hands and allow foreign interests destabilise the effort of the military in containing the activities of Boko Haram terrorists.
According to him, those groups have been put in place to undermine not only the army but Nigerian government.
“The AI that said that you are violating human right are being supported or sponsored by the western people and these are the things that we are working against as civil societies.
“We are now saying enough is enough for international organisations to be used as part of their foreign direct agencies to destabilise the government of Africa which we will not take any longer.
“I will now, on behalf of African civil society, in my capacity as an elected Nigerian representative of AU-ECOSOC, pass vote of confidence on Nigerian army.
“We have seen it, we have seen your antecedents, the facts are all there, it is on ground and it is a statement of fact that you have achieved a lot,’’ he said.
Ashaolu stated that the purpose of his visit was to solicit for partnership with Nigerian army to implement the AU-ECOSOC ‘Silencing the Guns’ programme from 2020 and beyond.
He said that the body could step in to partner army by empowering the youths especially in the north east, adding that poverty also had a link with security.
“We are here to see how we can form a synergy to see how we can work together and we still want to carry out assessment of what you have been doing and come out with a holistic report,’’ he said.
Responding, Buratai, commended the group for the move to partner Nigerian army, assuring that the army would engage the agency for enhanced collaboration.
Buratai said that the visit by the group was a morale booster that Nigerian army was being appreciated in Africa and globally.
He said that ‘silencing the guns programme’ was a laudable initiative that should be embrace by all, adding that proliferation of small arms had been a major problem in the continent.
“Your visit today is a landmark visit because it come at a time when there are a lot of misgivings about our operations in counter terrorism.
“What army personnel need is support and not condemnation and we want to call on all international organisations operating in the country to have a rethink and support Nigeria in winning the war against insurgency.
“Your visit is a morale booster to the Nigerian army especially our troops in the north east who are sacrificing their lives to defend this country,’’ he said.
Buratai disclosed that Nigerian army had taken the lead in silencing the guns, adding that Nigeria employs a number of international and national legal and institutional frameworks towards achieving the goal.
He added that in furtherance of the goals, the Nigerian Army had been contributing in the areas of border management to curtail the smuggling of weapons through African borders.
According to him, the Nigerian Army is actively contributing to national efforts to silence the guns in Nigeria as part of the overall continental effort towards the overall objectives of Agenda 2063.