Operational Code of Conduct for the Nigerian Army, July 1967

DIRECTIVE TO ALL OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON CONDUCT OF MILITARY OPERATIONS.


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As your Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I demand form all officers and men the two most important qualities of a fighting soldier- loyalty and discipline. Nigerian Armed Forces, especially the Army, have established a very high international reputation for high discipline and fighting efficiency since their establishment until the events of 15th January, 1966 spoilt that reputation.

Since then it has become most necessary to demand the highest sense of discipline and patriotism amongst all ranks of the Armed Forces. Success in battle depends to a large extent on this – discipline and loyalty of the officers and men and their sense of patriotism. 2. You are all aware of the rebellion of Lt.-Col. C. Odumegwu-Ojukwu of the East Central State and his clique against the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In view of this defiance of authority, it has become inescapable to use the force necessary to crush this rebellion. The hardcore of the rebels are Ibos. The officers and men of the minority areas (Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers and even some Ibos) do not support the rebellious acts of Lt.-Col. C. Odumegqu-Ojukwu.

During the operations of Federal Government troops against the rebel troops many soldiers and civilians will surrender. You should treat them fairly and decently in accordance with these instructions. 3. You must all bear in mind at all times that other nations in Africa and the rest of the world are looking at us to see how well we can perform this task which the nation demands of us. You must also remember that you are not fighting a war with a foreign enemy. Nor are you fighting a religious war or Jihad. You are only subduing the rebellion that will endanger the future unity of the country. We are in honor bound to observe the rules of the Geneva Convention in whatever action you will be taking against the rebel Lt.-Col. Odumegqu-Ojukwu and his clique. 4. I direct all officers and men to observe strictly the following rules during operations. (These instructions must be read in conjunction with the Geneva Convention): a. Under no circumstances should pregnant women be ill-treated or killed. b. Children must not be molested or killed. They will be protected and cared for. c. Youths and school children must not be attacked unless they are engaged in open hostility against Federal Government Forces.

They should be given all protection and care. d. Hospitals, hospital staff and patients should not be tampered with or molested. e. Soldiers who surrender will not be killed. They are to be disarmed and treated as prisoners of war. They are entitled in all circumstances to humane treatment and respect for their person
and their honor. f. No property, building, etc. will be destroyed maliciously. g. Churches and Mosques must not be desecrated. h. No looting of any kind. (A good soldier will never loot). i. Women will be protected against any attack on their person, honor and in particular against rape or any form of indecent assault. j. Male civilians who are hostile to the Federal Forces are to be dealt with firmly but fairly. They must be humanely treated. k. All military and civilians wounded will be given necessary medical attention and care.

They must be respected and protected in all circumstances. l. Foreign nationals on legitimate business will not be molested, but mercenaries will not be spared: they are the worst of enemies. 5. To be successful in our tasks as soldiers these rules must be carefully observed. I will not be proud of any member of the Armed Forces under my command who fails to observe them. He does not deserve any sympathy or mercy and will be dealt with ruthlessly. You will fight a clean fight, and honorable fight in defense of the territorial integrity of your nation – Nigeria. 6. You must remember that some of the soldiers Lt.-Col. Ojukwu has now forced to oppose you were once your old comrades at arms and would like to remain so. You must therefore treat them with respect and dignity except any one who is hostile to you. Good Luck.

Major-General Yakubu Gowon, Head of the Federal Military Government, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Note – To be read and fully explained to every member of the Armed Forces. Sufficient copies will be made available to all members of the Armed Forces and Police. It will be carried by all troops at all times.

Compiled by NOWAMAGBE AUSTIN OMOIGUI, MD


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