Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai has asked the country’s soldiers not to be intimidated by threats of war crime charges at the International Criminal Court.
The army chief who spoke at a meeting of military top brass on Monday, insisted that the soldiers – who have come under criticism following shooting of peaceful protesters at Lekki in Lagos State by those identified as soldiers – carried out their activities in line with the Nigerian Constitution.
The army officially denied carrying out the shooting in which about 10 people died, despite video evidence.
According to Buratai, as quoted in a transcripts of the meeting circulated by Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, the armed men have “every right under the Constitution to carry out assigned and legitimate roles of maintaining law and order in aid of civil authorities and other security agencies.”
The army chief alleged that ”criminal elements” are threatening military officers with travel ban.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better,” he said.
“The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here.”
Some Nigerians had called on the international community to place a visa ban on those responsible for the shooting of peaceful protesters.
The army chief said they will not allow any agent in or outside Nigeria to set the country on fire.
According to him, the army remains resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that ”subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of Nigeria do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.
“The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means,” he said.
“These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
“Despite all these, the army has continued to exercise restraint applied all the principles of internal security operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagement as contained in our published standard operating procedures for internal security operations which are derived from the International human rights laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.”