By KINGSLEY OMONOBI, Abuja –
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Ihejirika disclosed yesterday that the huge number of the deployment of heavily armed troops in and around Abuja was not occasioned by fears of another bomb attack akin to the one witnessed at the Police Force headquarters, but a necessary security measure aimed at protecting lives and property.
Speaking during the Pulling Out Parade in honour of the first 3-star General of Igbo extraction from the Nigeria Army, Lt. General Isaac Chikadibia Obiakor, the immediate past Military Adviser/Assistant Secretary General to the United Nations, Gen. Ihejirika said; ”henceforth, their would be increased military presence in the FCT particularly as it concerned protection of federal government assets, national institutions and the citizenry. The army have to ensure the protection of lives and property and this will be seen from time to time”.
Saturday Vanguard observed the presence of heavy troops in places like NNPC headquarters, the Central Bank head-quarters’, ministries, Eagle Square , the 3 -Arms zone, including the office of the Secretary to the Federation, National Assembly, the Millennium Park , big hotels, major road junctions and other important monuments.
Explaining the pulling out parade for Obiakor, the COAS said, “Pulling out of this nature is a kind of send off to mark the exit of a general in the armed forces and this particular parade is a significant one because it is that of an officer who attained the rank of a Lt. General and who has been an ambassador not only to the Nigerian army but to the nation at large, having risen to the post of the highest decision making body as far as peace support operations are concerned.
“Aside that, General Obiakor as described by many, is a very calm, intelligent and an astute trainer and a commander of men. At GOC 2 Division, I had opportunity to work under him in several committees and his leadership qualities were quite exemplary. So his sojourn in the army is worthy of emulation. For the young officers, they should just keep working hard. They do not need to lobby, let your job speak for you”.
Asked if UN has come up with new rules of engagement to prevent Nigerian soldiers deployed for peacekeeping suffering attacks from rebels, the COAS said, “The rules of engagement in any peace support operation is determined by the security council.
‘’It is not for individual countries to decide but what happens is that in every operation, we have to take part and obtain the rules of engagement. If it is different from what exists, we train our men to ensure compliance with it and Nigeria has always done that”.
In his address, Lt. General Obiakor said, “It is a thing of pride for the opportunity to serve meritoriously in one of the most organized armies in the world, the Nigerian Army. I am happy and nostalgic to state that this journey of 40 years as an officer and indeed 48 years since my first attestation to serve our country has been very eventful”.
“When I joined the Nigerian Army, as a young officer in the early 1970s, I had no inkling of what destiny had for me as I rose through the ranks and appointments to reach the pinnacle of my chosen career as a Lt. General and my last appointment as Military adviser/Assistant Secretary General, United nations. I thank the almighty God for seeing me through all these challenging times”.
Regarding Nigeria Army’s participation in world peacekeeping operations, Obiakor said, “It is a clear attestation of our collective contributions to mankind. This chosen course by Nigeria is not only humane but divine. It is my wish and prayer that God continues to bestow on our leaders the political will to stay the course. I know that I am leaving a Nigeria Army that is committed to its constitutional responsibilities and will continue to contribute meaningfully to the entrenchment of our nascent democracy”.
Present at the parade were Senator Ben Obi, General Martin Luther Agwai, General Andrew Azazi, former IGP, Ogbona Onovo, Major General Abdurahman, Chief of Staff , Liberia Armed forces, Engr. Emeka Eze, DG, Bureau of Public Procurement, Prince Arthur Eze, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Major General Anwali Kazir (rtd), AVM Chris Marizu (rtd) among others.