The U.S. on Thursday in Abuja restated its resolve to work with the Nigerian Army in addressing the numerous security challenges confronting the country.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, gave the assurance when he paid a visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai at the Army Headquarters.
Symington commended the army for working with civil authority in tackling internal security challenges in the country.
“I am aware of the extent to which this nation – Nigeria depends on its military. I am aware of the work and sacrifice of your soldiers.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai
“I am aware of how important it is that civilians, army, police and civilians defence teams work together in common effort to ensure safety, security and prosperity,’’ he said.
Symington further assured that his country would work with the army and other security outfits to ensure safety in the country and the West African sub-region. He acknowledged the role Nigeria recently played in enthroning democracy in The Gambia.
Buratai thanked the ambassador for the visit, saying that the U.S. and Nigeria have had a long standing relations, as well as with the Nigerian army.
“Apart from diplomatic relations, we also have military relationship in terms of training, equipment and logistics,’’ Buratai said.
He said that the U.S. had been assisting the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, as well as partnering with it in addressing international crimes like proliferation of small arms and smuggling of light weapons.
The army chief said that the U.S. currently had some elements of its Special Forces and experts in the North-East, who were working closely with Operation Lafiya Dole.
“We appreciate that support in terms of provision of ISR – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform and indeed providing the needed intelligence in support of our operations in the North East.
“I want to state here that this visit is a new chapter in establishing trust, the much-needed trust between our countries and armed forces and in particular, the army.’’
Buratai, however, solicited the understanding of the U.S. in the area of issues of human rights observance in the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and other areas.
“These Human Rights is critical in an era of democracy where the rule of law and observance of human rights is key.
“We are committed to the observance of human rights; one of our rules of engagement is to defend human rights.
“We are bounded by international law on armed conflict, all issues of human rights violation are properly investigated and punishment meted out where necessary. “Human rights violation is not tolerated in the army,’’ Buratai said.
Also, the Ukraine ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Valerii Aleksandruk visited Buratai and called for military cooperation between his country and Nigeria in terms of supply and maintenance of equipment.
Aleksandruk described Nigeria as an important country on the African continent, adding that Ukraine had supplied a number of equipment to the army to fight terrorists in the North-East. Buratai stressed the need for Ukraine to strengthen its relations with Nigeria.