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A BIG row has broken out over Lt.-Gen Theophilus Danjuma’s advice that Nigerians should defend themselves when attacked.
The Armed Forces, in his view, cannot protect Nigerians because they collude with the killers.
The Army and the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, rejected the former Minister of Defence and elder statesman’s claim.
The Army yesterday described Gen. Danjuma’s statement as “most unfortunate”. The Minister said it was a call to anarchy.
Gen. Danjuma (retd) accused the military of taking sides with a particular group and called on the citizens of the affected states to defend themselves from the attacks by herdsmen.
He said at the maiden Convocation of the Taraba State University (TSU), Jalingo: “The Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude …with the armed bandits that kill people and kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them.”
The Minister of Defence, lashed out at Gen Danjuma, saying his comment was an invitation to anarchy, and therefore should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.
The Army, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, said contrary to Danjuma’s accusation, the army remained impartial in its handling of crises.
The army also asked Nigerians to disregard Gen Danjuma’s advice and enjoined the citizenry to go about their day-to-day activities without fear and be law abiding.
It warned that “as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with accordance with the laws of the land.”
The statement reads: “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 in which he categorically asserted that the Armed Forces were 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 Ex 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.
Reacting to Gen. Dajuma’s comments through a statement by his Public Relations Officer, Colonel Tukur Gusau,the Minister of Defence said Gen. Danjuma’s advice should” be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians”.
”A recent comment by one of the elder statesmen wherein he alleged that the military colluded with bandits to kill people and, therefore, called 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 statement said.
It added: “The efforts of the Nigeria Armed Forces towards restoration of peace, security and order in Nigeria are evidently clear and Nigerians continue to show appreciation for changing the security environment from what it was before.”
“If anyone has evidence of wrongdoings or dereliction of duty against our troops should please bring forward such evidence through the appropriate channels for necessary action.”