The Nigerian Army has denied claims it’s colluding with marauding bandits who have been responsible for various crimes and atrocities against Nigerians and the Nigerian state.
The Army was reacting to a submission by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi who had told ARISE News on Wednesday that the Nigerian Military is colluding with bandits responsible for crimes including murder, rape and the kidnapping of schoolchildren.
Gumi is, however, widely accused of sympathising with terrorists, and has at several fora called for amnesty for the herdsmen who he says are ready to give up their arms if their demands are met.
Onyema Nwachukwu, a brigadier general and director of Army public relations in a statement on Wednesday said “contrary to Gumi’s claims, the Nigerian Army remains a bonafide symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with global best practices of adherence to the rules of engagement and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.”
Mr Nwachukwu said claims by the Islamic cleric was a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country.
“The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country. It is essential to remind ourselves that this same military, being accused of connivance, are the ones who recently put their lives on the line to rescue abductees of the Government Secondary School, Birnin Yawuri from kidnappers,” the statement read.
“While the NA will not attempt to excuse the possibility of black sheep amongst its fold, it must be stated unambiguously that it will not condone any form of sabotage or aiding and assisting the enemy by any personnel, as provisions for dealing decisively with such acts are crystallised in Section 45 (1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“It must also be pointed out, that while the military is very much receptive to constructive criticism, it should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals. It is also necessary to reiterate that patriotism must be taken to a trajectory where subversive conversations on the state are brought to the barest minimum.
“Opinion leaders are enjoined to demonstrate patriotism in building the peace, rather than being agents of destabilization, thereby aggravating the current security challenges facing the nation.
“The NA wishes to reassure law abiding citizens, that troops will continue to conduct themselves professionally in consonance with the code of conduct guiding our operations in all combat engagements, in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and global best practice. Citizens are enjoined to continue to support military operations by providing useful information to defence and security agencies and together we shall rid our society of these criminal elements.”
By Abel Ejikeme