Published On: Sun, Mar 25th, 2018

Heat over T. Y. Danjuma’s damning verdict on Nigerian Army

OBINNA EZUGWU

Danjuma

Nigerian government, Army and the Taraba State government have engaged in a war of words over remarks by former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), who while delivering a lecture at the maiden convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University on Saturday, alleged that there was an ethnic cleansing happening in the state and beyond while the Nigerian Army had seized to be neutral.

Danjuma noted that Nigerians were being killed at an alarming rate but the armed forces could not curb the bloodshed because they are also involved in it.

“The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians.”

The 79-year-old who is noted for his role in the counter coup of July 1966 which led to the killing of first military head of state, Aguiyi Ironsi and his host, Adekunle Fajuyi, alleged further that rather than protect the people, the army “facilitate” the movement of armed attackers and often provide cover for them.

“If you wait for the armed force to stop the killing, you all die one-by-one,” he warned.

“The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other parts of Nigeria. Otherwise, Somalia will be a child’s play. I urge all of you to be at alert and defend your country. Defend your territory, defend your state.

“You have nowhere else to go,” Mr. Danjuma added.

In a reaction, the Nigerian government and the Army said it was untrue that security forces are conniving with the attackers, and instead blamed the Taraba State government for lack of cooperation, a suggestion the Taraba government has not taken lightly.

Spokesperson of the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, Col. Tukur Gusau in a statement on Saturday night, said Danjuma’s call for self defence was an invitation to anarchy and highly uncalled for.

“This is highly uncalled for and is invitation to anarchy and should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians,” Gusau said.

“The efforts of the Nigerian military 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.

“The armed forces is well organised and highly professional in discharging its constitutional mandate.

“Therefore, if anyone has evidence of wrongdoing or dereliction of duty against our troops (the person) should please bring forward such evidence through the channel for necessary action,” Mr. Gusau noted.

Also reacting in a statement on Sunday morning by its spokesman, Brig. Texas Chukwu, the Nigerian Army said Danjuma’s comments were “uncharitable” and “unfortunate” and that the army had been working hard to restore peace in Taraba.

“The public is notified that Nigerian Army personnel have had to pay the supreme price for ensuring the sustenance of security in Taraba State,” Chukwu said.

“For instance, a gallant non-commission officer of the Nigerian Army was beheaded on 16 March 2018 in Takum Taraba State by criminal elements.”

He alleged that the Taraba State government did not cooperate with the army because the army insisted on neutrality.

“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,” Chukwu alleged.

“The Nigerian Army will continue to remain as such.”

However, the Taraba government soon fired back in a message by Emmanuel Bello, a spokesperson to Governor Darius Ishaku to online medium, Premium Times, labelling the army’s claim as “strange.”

“We don’t understand the charge that we do not want to cooperate with the military,” he reportedly said.

“How have we not cooperated? This grave charge has to be explained first before we even begin to know how best to respond.”

Bello noted that the governor works with all security agencies in the state to check attacks that had left hundred dead within its borders so far this year.

“Meanwhile, we are ready to work with all the security agencies for the safety of our people,” he said. The governor “is always ready to work with all stakeholders in the promotion of peace as the chief security officer of the state he works with all agencies.”

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