By Rabiu Sani
The Nigerian Army has restated its commitment to collaborate with United Nations agencies and other organisations to address humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.
Lt.- Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), gave the commitment at a dinner and media interactive session organised for editors and defence correspondents in Maiduguri.
Buratai, who was reacting to recent misunderstanding between the military and the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), said the issues had been resolved amicably.
He declared that: “I assure you that there is no enmity between the UNICEF, the Nigerian Military and in particular the Nigerian Army.
“Indeed, in this operation we will continue to cooperate with them to ensure that we carry out the necessary humanitarian aid and support for the agencies to carry out their responsibilities.
“What transpired is something that could not have happened but at times you have to take necessary steps knowing that the right result would be achieved.
“These are times not within the normal situations, these are times where some many lives were lost.
This is a time when so many trying activities are taking place, and such times have led to frustration of our efforts in various operations in the northeast.
“It is important to note that whatever we are doing, we are conscious of our international obligations as well as the need to safeguard national security.
“I am sure that the international organisations will not subscribe or allow any actions or inactions of certain individuals or groups to jeopardise the national security of the country they operate and this is quite fundamental.
“We understand the challenges and I am happy that the issue has been resolved, the UNICEF and other organisations were not prevented from carrying out their legitimate duties”.
Buratai expressed the hope that the incident would not repeat itself, adding that Nigerian Army had been participating in immunisation and other humanitarian activities in the northeast.
According to him, the army is working in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and other organisations on routine immunisation in the northeast.
The army chief noted that the troops had been at the vanguard of providing support to the organisations in hard-to-reach areas, to enable them to conduct their services.
“The Nigerian Army has been at the fore front where the humanitarian organisations could not reach.
“Our troops, apart from fighting the Boko Haram terrorists, are also carrying out immunisation of children in the northeast, ” he added.