*As DHQ appoints new commander for Operation Delta Safe
By Kingsley Omonobi, with agency report
ABUJA—The Nigeria Army has said it will investigate and track down those behind the recent speculation that some of its officers had approached the Niger Delta militants for support to carry out a coup against the government.
This came as Defence Headquarters yesterday announced that a new commander, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, had been appointed for the new joint security outfit for the Niger Delta, following the scrapping of ‘Operation Pulo Shield’ by the Federal Government, which had now been renamed, ‘Operation Delta Safe.’
Denying that it was plotting to topple the democratic government, the Army said it will leave no stone unturned until persons linked to such “dangerous” speculation were fished out and brought to book.
Spokesman for the army, Sani Usman, said in a statement yesterday that the Nigerian Army, as a product of democracy, would never contemplate such “anti-democratic misadventure.”
He said under the command of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai,, the Army would rather remain focused as a professional institution that would have nothing to do with such “abomination and heinous crime.”
He said the army would always remain loyal to the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while defending the constitution and territorial integrity of the country.
He said the coup speculation was a calculated attempt to distract the army from its ongoing war against terror in the country.
The Army’s statement read in part: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to another campaign of calumny and distraction by faceless criminal gang of economic saboteurs that hide under the aegis of Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, alleging that some officers of the Nigerian Army approached them for support to overthrow our duly elected present democratic government.
“This is baseless and most unfortunate allegation that existed in the warped minds of the originators of such weighty allegation. The Nigerian Army wishes to state that this is not true and, hereby, distance itself from this weighty allegation.”
“We also see this speculation as a dangerous distraction to our effort in fighting insurgency and other criminal elements in the country.
“The Nigerian Army would like to send a strong and an unequivocal warning to those speculating a coup by the Nigerian Army (NA) against the government to desist forthwith. We would like to state in clear terms that we are a product of democracy and a focused professional institution and would have nothing to do with such abomination and heinous crime.
“We wish to state further that the NA is the greatest beneficiary of democracy and, therefore, cannot ever contemplate any anti-democratic misadventure, certainly not under the command of the present Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai. Rather, we see this type of dangerous speculation as a declaration of war to destabilise the present government by these unscrupulous elements.
“The Nigerian Army is investigating those behind the dangerous insinuation in order to unravel the real motive behind it.
“We would like to reiterate our unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We would also like to reaffirm our unconditional support and obedience to civil authority.
“We wish to further assure Nigerians and, indeed, all peace loving people that the Nigerian Army and, indeed, its personnel will never be involved in such terrible misadventure.
“We wish to further add that no matter how long it takes, we would track and find out those behind these insinuations and bring them to justice”.
Since it became politically independent some 56 years ago, Nigeria has witnessed nine coups and attempted coups.
Meanwhile, following the scrapping of ‘Operation Pulo Shield’ by the federal government and launching of ‘Operation Delta Safe’, a new Commander has been appointed for the new joint security outfit for the Niger Delta.
He is Rear Admiral Joseph Osa Okojie who until his appointment was the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Training Command, Lagos. His appointment is with immediate effect.
This was contained in a statement by Defence spokesman, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar.