By KINGSLEY OMONOBI-ABUJA
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. KTJ Minimah has confirmed the long held secret that desertion, acts of cowardice and indiscipline within the army in the ongoing fight against terrorism was one of the greatest setbacks in checkmating Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the third quarterly conference of the COAS, via the Defence Headquarters twitter handle @DefenceInfoNG, being a highlight of the COAS admonition, Minimah said “the rising acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conduct by troops was unbecoming and charged Commanders at all levels to put a stop to it as the Nigerian Army was a professional organization.”
He recalled the attempted mutiny by troops in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, against the then GOC 7 Division, Maj.Gen Ahmadu Mohammed saying, “A few issues needs to be urgently addressed that have caught my attention in recent weeks.
Principal among these is the rising acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conduct by troops. In this regard, the recent mutinous act in Maiduguri and reported destruction of public property in Lagos readily comes to mind. As a professional army, the conduct of our troops must be above board at all times”
Blaming it on the fact that most people, who joined the military in recent times, do so out of the need for employment and not passion for military service, Minimah said, “Desertion is part of warfare. We must accept that since the era of the Cartagena wars, soldiers had deserted from battle field. In our own case, we are doing recruitment now and we are also receiving presentations from across the country, from people who want their wards to be enlisted in the army”.
“But we need to have a thorough recruitment because mind you, there is high level of unemployment on ground; most people want jobs and if that job means joining the army fine. It is a source of employment.
However, when the reality of the military service comes, he drops his riffles. So desertion will continue to be there. We had desertion in ECOMOG; in the Nigerian Civil war and now it will continue to be there”.
“Also, acts of indiscipline will continue to be there but when they are caught, they are investigated and when they are found questionable they will face the Court-Martial”.
“Like I said, in a few months time, the war will be over. But I cannot give you a clear calendar date because this is war on terrorism. It cannot be determined in terms of concrete date”.
On allegations that the army was underperforming in the war on terror, he said, “The Nigerian Army is performing. I know the expectations of the Nigerian citizens but the expectation is rather too much in haste.
We need some time; we need patience and you must know we are fighting terrorism. We are not fighting a conventional war. Nigerian Army is a conventional and regular army”.
“The terrorist is someone you don’t know. It may be someone who sold food or fruit to you in the morning and by the afternoon he is the terrorist. We are having all that inter-play in the battle front in the North-East. We have to be conscious to separate the terrorist from the law abiding citizens and we also have human rights to protect”.
“We are fighting Nigerian citizens we are not fighting foreigners; so caution must be exercised. I appeal and assure that we will certainly surmount it but we also need support from the nation, from all segments of society and from the people including the media. And we need patience and time for us to do it.
We also have the equipment and the FG is introducing fresh and newer equipment to us which in a short while hopefully be there for use”.