Practice Relating to Rule 28. Medical Units
Nigeria’s Operational Code of Conduct (1967) provides: “hospitals … should not be tampered with or molested.”
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides:
Specifically protected … establishments … recognised as such must be respected … Specifically protected establishments shall not be touched or entered, though they could be inspected to ascertain their contents and effective use.
Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War provides:
Medical units and establishments are not to be attacked by the belligerents and must at all times be respected and protected … Medical units and establishments must be located, if possible, in such places that attacks on military targets would not endanger their safety.
The manual also provides:
Medical establishments are not entitled to protection when not used for humanitarian purposes; however, protection may be withdrawn only after the warning. Protection is not forfeited merely because medical personnel are armed for self-defence or when there are sentries who guard the medical establishments or when the activities of the unit include treatment of civilian wounded and sick.
The manual qualifies “the bombardment of hospitals and other privileged buildings” and “improper use of a privileged building for military purposes” as war crimes.
According to the Report on the Practice of Nigeria, Nigerian practice recognizes the protection of medical objects from attack. The report states: “Nigerian opinio juris
is … that the protection from attack of medical objects is a part of customary international law.”