The Nigerian Army on Sunday responded to a statement by Theophilus Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence, and a former Chief of Army Staff, on Saturday, advocating self-defense of citizens in Taraba State and accusing the Army of bias in security operations in the North East, saying the statement is unfortunate.
The former minister, at the graduation ceremony of the State University on Saturday, urged citizens in Taraba State to defend themselves and not rely on the Nigerian Army for protection; he said the Army bias and conniving with killers to attack Nigerians.
In a statement on Sunday, Texas Chukwu, spokesman of the Nigerian Army, debunked Army’s bias in security operations in the North East, maintaining that the military is neutral in its operation.
The Army said the retired general made the statement at a time when the demilitarisation of the North Central had just commenced.
“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,” the statement read.
“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 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.”
Chukwu advised Nigerians to continue to be law-abiding citizens as anyone caught with arms and ammunition would be dealt with in accordance with the laws.