We need UN assistance to demine Sambisa forest – General Buratai

Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, says Nigeria needs the assistance of United Nations (UN) to demine Sambisa forest in Borno state.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Buratai said the army is doing a “limited demining” of the forest to enable the troops move around for operations.

He said that this is in order to create safe routes for the troops to move from one place to another.

“The army is currently doing a limited demining of routes in the forest to enable troops to move around for operations,” Buratai said.

“Strictly speaking, we have not started demining the Sambisa forest. The areas we are concentrating on are where we are working, where our troops will have to move from one point to the other.

“These are the efforts we are making to create safe lanes for troops to pass from one point to the other. But, for our deliberate demining efforts, it will require much, much resources, much more effort, and we may even request for the civilian demining support in that regard.

“Demining is not restricted to the military only, there are several organisations that have been doing this, the UN is one and there are other NGOs that are involved which actually work under the umbrella of the UN.

“So, as comprehensive efforts, these bodies need to be invited to support what the military is doing right now in a limited capacity in that regard.”

The chief of army staff said there was need for the police to take over strategic areas so it would enable the army concentrate on the mop up of the remnants of Boko Haram insurgents.

“We need more policemen deployed even in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Bama, Damasak, Gubio, Monguno and Baga and other towns where people have returned, they – police need to really take over,” Buratai said.

“Apart from the regular police, the Mobile Police also are key, we need them to be there. There are concerns all over that at this stage we really need the civil authority to come and take up their responsibilities fully.”

He added that the army was guided by laws, including the 1999 constitution which specified its own rules of engagement and international law on armed conflict in its operations.

“We know what we are doing, definitely we will not infringe on individual rights. We have our own constitutional role; we have our own rules of engagement which are in tandem with our constitution, in tandem with even the international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict,” he said.

“If, in course of our duty, someone feels that something has gone wrong contrary to what they believe in and they go beyond to call for arms embargo and denial of certain weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military, I think the government will address that appropriately.”


Source: The Cable

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