Practice Relating to Rule 52. Pillage
Nigeria’s Operational Code of Conduct (1967) gives troops, inter alia
, the following instruction: “No looting of any kind. (A good soldier will never loot.)”
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides that civilian property shall be safeguarded, inter alia
, against theft.
Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War states: “Looting is most damaging to morale and destructive to discipline. Looting is absolutely prohibited.”
It also considers pillage to be a war crime.
The manual further states:
Private property should be respected. It must not be … pillaged even if found in an occupied territory … Real property belonging to local government such as hospitals and buildings dedicated to public worship, charity, education, religion, science and art should be treated as private property.
The manual also provides that the absence of persons from their house does not authorize pillage and damage.
Nigeria’s Soldiers’ Code of Conduct states: “Civilian property shall be safeguarded against theft.”
Nigeria’s Armed Forces Act (1993), as amended in 1994, states:
A person subject to service law under this Act who-
(a) steals from, or with intent to steal, searches the body of a person killed, wounded or captured in the course of war-like operations, or killed, injured or detained in the course of operation[s] undertaken by any service of the Armed Forces for the preservation of law and order or otherwise in aid of the civil authorities; or
(b) steals any property which has been left exposed or unprotected in consequence of the operations as are mentioned in paragraph (a) of this section; or
(c) takes, otherwise than for the public service, any vehicle, equipment or stores abandoned by the enemy,
is guilty of looting and liable, on conviction by a court-martial, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or any less punishment provided by this Act.
In 1996, a newspaper reported the investigation by the Nigerian authorities of officers serving with ECOMOG who had allegedly brought back cars and building materials from Liberia. Preliminary investigation did not reveal the looting of property but the “authorities were concerned about the moral aspects of personnel buying items that might have been offered at very cheap prices by persons rattled or distressed by the effects of war”.