By kingsley Omonobi
The Nigerian Army High Command hit back at Plateau State governor Jonah Jang Wednesday over comments he made on Tuesday attributing last Sundayâ€™s violence in three villages of Jos South local government leading to the death of about 500 people to he Army’s laxity, saying it was not only embarrassing to the Army but also a display of naivety by a military officer.
Explaining that the internal security operation in Jos, the Plateau State capital had since been converted to a Joint military operation following incessant crises in the area, the Army expressed surprise that the governor spuriously decided to target the Army when the operation involves personnel of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Airforce and the Police.
A statement signed by Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, Director of Army Public Relations and titled, â€˜Governor Jangâ€™s Unfortunate statementâ€™ reads: â€œThe Nigerian Army has noted with serious concern a statement made by the Governor of Plateau State, Da Jonah Jang to the effect that last Sundayâ€™s killings in the Jos South Local Government Area of the State could have been averted if the Army had acted on the early intelligence report he providedâ€.
â€œComing from a Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of a State with substantial military background, it is unfortunate that Air Commodore David Jang (rtd) has demonstrated an embarrassing naivety in interpreting the dynamics of land operations. The Governor would have spared the nation his unfortunate remarks if only he consulted sufficiently before making his inciting declarationâ€.
â€œThat Governor Jang visited the Defence Headquarters today (Wednesday, 10 March, 2010) clearly indicates that he knows the appropriate authority to consult in the event of dissatisfaction with the action of any Army commander. Rather than follow this process, he resorted to inflammatory remarks targeted at rubbishing the Army. His allegation insinuating bias is indeed unfortunateâ€.
â€œIt is noteworthy that the Nigerian Army is involved in internal security operations in virtually all states of the Federation including Plateau State. The record of the Armyâ€™s performance in all these operations has continued to attract commendation and appreciation even in the face of numerous challengesâ€.
â€œGovernor Jangâ€™s ceaseless attack on the Army only goes to confirm his extraordinary partisanship to which the Army will not be blackmailed into supportingâ€.
â€œIt is common knowledge that the Internal Security operation in Jos, Plateau State is a Joint military operation involving the various services and the Nigeria Police Force. This situation arose when the Police could not cope at the onset of the Jos crisis in January 2010 and the military was legally drafted to restore law and order in Plateau Stateâ€.
â€œThe operation now involves personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police and the State Security Service among others. It is therefore unfortunate that Governor Jangâ€™s spurious claims were specifically targeted at tarnishing the good image of the Armyâ€.
â€œThe Governor may have his political or other intents to achieve, but he should desist from compounding issues, at least in the interest of the people who are endangered by his proposition and disdain for the Army in particularâ€.
â€œAlthough the Army is briefing appropriate authorities on its operations and believes that appropriate response to Governor Jangâ€™s attack on the Army is forthcoming, it is necessary to reassure Nigerians that the Army is not involved in any complicity as suggested by Governor Jang through his numerous channels for blackmail. The Army will continue to make its vital inputs into the ongoing joint operations of the Special Task Force as duly mandated by the Federal Government of Nigeriaâ€.
â€œThe Nigerian Army wishes to make it emphatically clear that it has no other interest in the state other than commitment to the operation and restoration of peace. The Army high command is working in concert with Defence Headquarters to guide the operations of the Joint Task Force in Plateau State towards achieving Governmentâ€™s intention of ensuring adequate security in the area as quickly as possibleâ€.
â€œThe Nigerian Army seizes this opportunity to commiserate with the families who have lost their loved ones in the unfortunate incident of last Sunday and previous skirmishes associated with the crisis in Plateau Stateâ€.
â€œThe Army therefore appeals for the understanding of the public and stakeholders in particular to support the joint operations and ignore those who engage in all sorts of misinformation, unwarranted and provocative statements with the main vision of rubbishing Armyâ€™s record of effectiveness. Meanwhile, the Army members of the joint task force are enjoined to remain focused and ignore attempts to dampen their morale in this critical national assignmentâ€.