Following several days of protests and violence across Nigeria, the country’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has said “the military will do everything possible to ensure that subversive elements and enemies of Nigeria do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilization”, as he charged top army commanders and soldiers not to be afraid of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out their legitimate roles of maintaining law and order in the country.
In a statement issued on his behalf by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Sagir Musa, the Army Chief said: “None of the PSOs, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army should be afraid of the ICC for carrying out their legitimate duties as stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other extant laws, rules and regulations of Nigeria.
“Any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law-abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively,” Buratai said shortly after meeting with top-ranking army commanders in the nations’ capital Abuja.
He added that “the best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains stable and steady. We will not allow any force, elements, or destabilizing agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire.
“We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors, and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilization,” he said.
The Nigerian Army again in a veiled manner denied its involvement in the Lekki Toll Gate shootings last Tuesday in Lagos, stating that efforts of troops at ensuring compliance with the curfew imposed in Lagos and other states have deliberately been misrepresented.
According to Buratai, “enemies of the country” embarked on a plan of massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the Nigerian Army once it’s called out to aid the civil authorities.
“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.
“These agitators are falsely accusing the Nigerian Army of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary. They have continually threatened to report the Nigerian Army to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families. Thankfully, however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications,” the Army Chief said.
Buratai said no less than ten AK-47 rifles have been lost to miscreants in the past two weeks and charged officers to put an end to the trend.
“The recent activities by unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all costs from security personnel. No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past 2 weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel. We must nip in the bud this emerging trend at all costs.
“There is no choice between a democratically united, strong and prosperous Nigeria and a nation disunited in a state of anarchy and retrogression. We must all strive for a united, strong, stable, and progressive Nigeria,” the army chief said.
By Abel Ejikeme