Former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (rtd), has accused the Nigerian military of prejudice, urging people to defend themselves, rather than rely entirely on the institution for protection.
The statement coming from Danjuma, also a former Chief of Army Staff, brings a disturbing twist to the country’s insecurity crisis.
Danjuma made the disclosure in Jalingo, Taraba State, yesterday, during the maiden convocation of the state’s university.
Taraba has over the years witnessed alleged killings by armed herdsmen.
The retired General charged Nigerians to depend less on the Armed Forces, which according to him “are now biased in their operations.”
He expressed regret that the institution, which used to be a shield for citizens, irrespective of religion, tribe or political party affiliation, has descended into partisanship.
The Armed Forces now “collude with armed bandits” to attack innocent Nigerians,” he said, warning: “If you depend on them to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
He urged the people to rise up and “protect themselves” from killings by “ethnic cleansers.” He cautioned that unless there is a rethink in the way the military carries out its duties, “Somalia will be a child’s play.”
He said: “Defend your country, defend your state and defend yourselves.” He stressed that since the people have nowhere else to go, they must “collectively resist any attempt that would frustrate the growth of the country.”
He wondered why the Armed Forces have derailed from its constitutional responsibilities by aligning with “killers” to intimidate and maim innocent Nigerians.
This came as suspected herdsmen at Dong village in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State displayed a show of force yesterday night, shooting sporadically into the air.
Observers say the action could be a move to intimidate the residents or assert their military capabilities.
A competent source in the area told The Guardian: “This activity was going on in full glare and hearing of the security personnel without any move on their part. It was as if they were not concerned at all; as if security was not their duty.”
The source added: “My brother, this is beyond religious consideration. Ethnicity and nationality are coming to the fore and we are just helpless. Government is aware, the military is aware, the Operation Safe Haven is aware. But if you confront them, they will tell you they are on top of the situation.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. What is all this? Do we have shortage of military manpower? But the security personnel we have are indifferent to people’s plight.
They are quick to swing into action and deal with the situation appropriately and decisively only if it concerns them and harmless civilians. This is very unfortunate.”
However, the Nigerian military has on Sunday described the statement credited to a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, as an unfortunate statement coming out from a highly distinguished statesman especially now the military has embarked on demilitarization of the North Central Region of the Country.
The headquarters through its public relations director, Texas Chukwu, Brigadier General also warned Nigerians not to listen to the former chief of Army staff, noting that anyone caught in possession of arms would be dealt with.
“The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authority whenever called upon to do so”, part of its statement read.
Recall that Danjuma had asked Nigerians especially Taraba indigenes to protect themselves or risk being killed by herdsmen. A statement he made at the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University, yesterday that pinched the Nigerian Army.
Danjuma said, “You must rise to protect yourselves from these people; if you depend on the armed forces to protect you, you will all die.
“I ask all of you to be on the alert and defend your country, defend your state. “This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military; they cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no other place to go”, he said.
In view of this therefore, the Nigerian headquarter on Sunday issued a statement warning Nigerians not to listen to the advice of the statesman for they are saddled with the responsibility of protecting the territory.
Read its full statement below:
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the unfortunate statement made by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University on Saturday 24 March 2018 in which he categorically asserted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was colluding with militias and other criminal elements and was unable to provide security for the citizens of Taraba State. He further called the people of Taraba State to take up arms and defend themselves.
“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 demilitarisation 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 the Nigerian public:
“The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authority whenever called upon to do so. In this light, the authorisation for the conduct of Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA was authorised 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 achieved in Ex AYEM AKPATUMA have been recognised 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-commission 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 inception 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 crisis. The Nigerian Army will continue to remain as such.
“For avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Army advises the people of Taraba State and indeed all other Nigerians to continue in their day-to-day activities and be law abiding as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with accordance with the laws of the land. Every law-abiding citizen is assured of equal protection and security of their lives and property irrespective of his/her person.”
-[The Guardian Ngr/VANGUARD]