By: Kingsley Omonobi-Abuja.
Defence Minister, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali has said that the call by elder statesman and former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General TY Danjuma (rtd), to the people of Taraba state to take up arms and defend themselves in the face of Fulani herdsmen killings, is an invitation to anarchy.
He made the disclosure just as the Nigerian Army alleged that General Danjuma’s accusation that the Army was colluding with the herdsmen to kill the people was occasioned by the refusal of the army to remain neutral in the crises rather than supporting one side against the other.
The Defence minister in a statement entitled ‘Re-Armed Forces Collude with Bandits to Kill People’, said, “A recent comment by one of the nation’s elder statesman alleging that the Nigerian Military collude with bandits to kill people and therefore calling on them to rise and defend themselves outside constitutional provisions; this is highly uncalled for and is an invitation to anarchy and should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.
“The efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces towards restoration of peace, security and order in Nigerians continue to receive appreciation to changing the security environment from what it was before.
“The Nigerian Armed Forces is well organized and highly professional in discharging its constitutional mandate.
“Therefore if anyone has evidence of wrongdoings or dereliction of duty against our troops, he should please bring forward such evidence through appropriate channels for necessary action.
“For avoidance of doubt, the military will not be distracted from performing its statutory duties in accordance with the rules of engagement.
Similarly, reacting to the accusation, the Nigerian Army in a statement on the ‘Alleged Collusion with Militias/Criminals, made by Former Chief of Army Staff’ said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the unfortunate statement made by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State university on Saturday 24th March 2018 in which he categorically asserted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was colluding with Militias and other criminal elements and unable to provide security for the citizens of Taraba state.
“He further called on the people of Taraba state to take up arms and defend themselves.
The statement signed by Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, Director, Army Public Relations added, “The Nigerian Army views this statement made by the former Chief of Army staff as most unfortunate at this critical time that the military has embarked upon de-militarization of the North Central Region of the country.
“While Nigerian army would not want to join issues with the elder statesman, however, certain facts need to be clearly stated in the interest of the Taraba people and Nigerians public.
“The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid civil authority whenever called upon to do so.
“In this light, the authorization for the conduct of Ex-Ayem Akpatuma was authorized and troops deployed to curb menace of the herdsmen/farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North Central Region amongst others.
“It is on record that the successes so far recorded in Ex-Ayem Akpatuma have been recognized and accepted by Nigerians.
“The public is notified that Nigerian Army personnel have had to pay the supreme price for ensuring the sustenance of security in Taraba state.
“For instance, a gallant non-commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army was beheaded on 16 March 2018 in Takum, Taraba State by criminal elements.
“It is noteworthy to state that at the start of Ex-Ayem Akpatuma, the Taraba State government did not cooperate with the Nigerian army due to the Army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen/farmers crises. The Nigerian army will continue to remain as such.
“For avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Army advices the people of Taraba state and indeed all Nigerians to continue in their day to day activities and be law abiding as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land.
“Every law abiding citizen is assured of equal protection and security of lives and property irrespective of his or her person.”