Practice Relating to Rule 51. Public and Private Property in Occupied Territory
Section C. Private property in occupied territory
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “[Civilian] property [shall be] safeguarded against theft and damage.”
Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War states:
Vehicles, signal equipment, weapons and other equipment required for immediate military use may also be seized (but if they belong to private individuals they will be restored when peace is established or indemnity would be for them).
Private property should be respected. It must not be confiscated … even if found in an occupied territory. In war it is difficult to avoid damage to private property as practically every military operation, movement or combat occasions such damage but unnecessary damage to the property of civilians must definitely be avoided.
Food, liquor and clothes of private individuals should not be requisitioned; but if they are required by the occupying army they can be taken and paid for in cash. If immediate payment is not possible a receipt must be given for them and payment of the amount due must be made as soon as possible.
The temporary use of real property for military purposes during a combat operation is justified, although such use may diminish the value of the property. For example, in addition to the necessary use of grounds during combat for marching, encampment and building strong-points, the citizens can be forced to accommodate in their houses soldiers, the sick and the wounded or keep army vehicles. Buildings may be used for observation posts, shelter, defence, etc. … If necessary, houses and fences may be destroyed to prepare a field of fire or to supply material for bridges, fuel, etc., needs essential to the army. When private property is used for accommodation of troops the owners and occupants should be given substitute accommodation. When military necessity requires the evacuation of the occupants they should be given an early warning and enable to carry with them their necessaries.
When houses of missing persons are being used they should be taken care of in their absence. [T]heir absence does not authorise … damage and a note should be left if anything is taken in case of military necessity.
Nigeria’s Soldiers’ Code of Conduct provides: “Civilian property shall be safeguarded against theft and damage.”