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Nigeria: military instructors trained to teach international humanitarian law

29-04-2008 News Release 08/72

Abuja (ICRC) – Between 14 and 25 April, thirteen officers from different units of the Nigerian army, navy and air force attended the fifth instructor's course on international humanitarian law (IHL) at the Armed Forces Command & Staff College Jaji.

The course was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Its aim was to provide instructors from the Nigerian armed forces with a solid understanding of IHL and enable them to teach the subject at all training facilities in the country.

During this course, three participants from a previous instructor's course taught alongside the ICRC instructor. Jacques Villettaz, head of the ICRC's regional delegation in Nigeria, expressed the hope that these facilitators would gradually form the core of a team of qualified IHL instructors and in due course create an IHL cell within the Nigerian armed forces. The ICRC and the Nigerian armed forces held the first IHL instructor's course in 2004. So far, over 100 instructors have undergone training.

" A combatant reacts by reflex because he has no time to think about his actions. And the enemy won’t wait for him to think either, " says Pierre Vandeputte, who is the ICRC's delegate to armed and security forces in West Africa. " The best way to acquire the appropriate reflex is by constant training and application of the rules of international humanitarian law. "

The Nigerian armed forces play a major role in peacekeeping operations in Africa. Brigadier General B. T. Oginni, Director of the Department of Coordination at the Armed Forces Command & Staff College Jaji, believes that this initiative by the ICRC will further " expose future commanders to the rules and regulations guiding peace support operations, as the armed forces will be running the programme " .

The ICRC was active in Nigeria during the country's civil war (1966 – 1970). To day, the organization focuses on spreading knowledge of IHL by working with the national authorities, the armed forces, the police and civil society. In cooperation with the Nigerian Red Cross Society, it also provides protection and assistance for people affected by violence and natural disaster.

For further information, please contact:
  Anahita Kar, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 46 19 613 or +234 703 595 4168
  Blessing Ejiofor, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 080 3333 5280