The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Saturday urged troops not to be distracted by the threats by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes against Nigerian forces in the North East.

Buratai in a statement through the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Sagir Musa, in Abuja also enjoined troops to ignore what he described as “wicked and unnecessary distractions.”

He asked them to fully concentrate on the final defeat of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist groups, which he said was in sight. Responding to Friday’s statement by the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that the organisation would investigate Nigerian security forces for alleged “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes” in the North East, the COAS said there was no doubt that such statement and instigation could distract the Nigerian troops with its demoralising effects.

He said it could have negative consequences on troops’ morale, interest in military service by Nigerians and severe setback to all Nigeria’s internal security operations.

He also charged the troops to work hard and be guided by the constitution of Nigeria, the Rules of Engagement, the Code of Conduct and the Standing Operating Procedures for all Nigerian Army Operations.

According to him, the Nigerian army is not only protecting human rights but also sustaining human rights nationally and globally.

“Our professional conduct over the years and, most recently, during the #EndSARS protest at Lekki village near Lagos are clear testimonies to the Nigerian army’s posture on promoting sustainable human rights policy.

“The Nigerian army wishes to advise local or international organisations not to allow themselves be used to destabilise or destroy the troops’ morale by the sponsors of mischief in Nigeria,” he said.

Army spokesperson, Musa, disclosed that Buratai was currently on self-isolation as part of precaution against the COVID-19 infection. Musa said that the COAS would soon join the troops in the north eastern part of the country at the end of the mandatory isolation period to continue giving them the desired leadership and support.