Ex-army chief’s call, an invitation to anarchy –FG
Taraba govt didn’t cooperate with us, says army
Olusola Fabiyi, Femi Makinde, Leke Baiyewu, Olaleye Aluko, Tony Okafor and Theophilus Onojeghen
The Peoples Democratic Party says the call by a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen.Theophilus Danjuma(retd.), that Nigerians should defend themselves against killers is a testimony of the “tragic situation which the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress have dragged the nation into.”
Danjuma had, on Saturday at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University, told Nigerians to defend themselves against killers, saying the Nigerian Armed Forces were not ready to defend them.
He had said, “There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state (Taraba) and of course, some rural states in Nigeria, we must resist it. We must stop it. Everyone of us must rise up. Our armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians… If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
The PDP spoke in a statement issued on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, just as the Federal Government said Danjuma’s statement was an invitation to anarchy.
The opposition party said Danjuma’s statement had justified its stand that the Buhari Presidency and the APC must be held responsible for the agonising state of the nation.
It added that Nigerians were daily suffering because of the alleged failures of “a grossly incompetent leadership and a deceitful ruling party.”
The PDP said the statement coming from an army general, a former Chief of Army Staff and a former defence minister of Danjuma’s status was weighty and “directly reflects the ugly situation in the country under the APC.”
Ologbondiyan said the fact that communities were resorting to self-defence was a clear demonstration that Nigerians across board “have completely lost confidence in President Buhari and the APC.”
He said, “It is instructive to recall that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida – both former military leaders, army generals and patriots – had earlier raised the issue of continuous bloodletting in our country under the APC and the Buhari presidency.
“Painfully, the APC-controlled Federal Government has not only failed in finding a solution, it is also contending with allegations of conspiracy and acts that are believed to have emboldened attacks against innocent Nigerians.
“Nigerians are no longer feeling secure in their land. Our country has, in close to three years, assumed a status of killing fields where defenceless citizens are despoiled, raped and mowed down by insurgents and marauders in Benue, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau, Nasarawa, Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, among other states.
“Unfortunately, the Federal Government remains aloof and has failed to take decisive steps that will apprehend the masterminds of the carnage.”
The spokesperson for the main opposition party said the country was witnessing what he described as complete government insensitivity.
He also said there were allegations of complicity and compromise of security around soft targets and the dishing out of false information, as was the case in Benue, Yobe, Taraba and other states where Nigerians had come under heavy attacks from marauders under the Buhari administration.
He said, “More intriguing is that the Presidency and the APC Federal Government have refused to clear the air on their roles in the alleged compromise of security in troubled areas, particularly the reported withdrawal of troops from Dapchi prior to the abduction of the schoolgirls.
“Nigerians have also yet to see the action taken by President Buhari against the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for flouting a presidential order that he should relocate to troubled Benue State in the heat of attacks on the state.
“Similarly, the strange silence of the Federal Government on the alleged importation of military equipment by APC interests in Kogi State remains ominous.
“The fact that we now have a situation where the government confesses to back-channel negotiations with insurgents, hasty offering of amnesty to marauders and killers, allegations of round-tripping in billions of naira on alleged shady ransom payments and swap deals with insurgents, also leaves much to be desired under the current circumstances.
“While we restate our call for a United Nations’ monitored independent inquest into the security situation in our country, we stand with Nigerians in our moment of national despair.”
Danjuma’s comment, invitation to anarchy – FG
However, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said Danjuma’s comment was “highly uncalled for,” and an invitation to anarchy, asking Nigerians to report any member of the armed forces suspected to be colluding with herdsmen.
Dan-Ali spoke in a statement by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau.
The statement read in part, “On a recent comment by one of the elder statesmen alleging that the military colludes with bandits to kill people and calling on them to rise and defend themselves, this is highly uncalled for and it is an invitation to anarchy. It should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.
“The Armed Forces are professional in discharging their constitutional mandate. Therefore, if anyone has evidence of wrongdoing or dereliction of duty against our troops, he should bring forward such evidence through the appropriate channels for necessary action.”
‘Taraba govt didn’t cooperate with us’
Also, the Nigerian Army on Sunday said the comment by Danjuma was unfortunate, noting that the Taraba State Government had refused to cooperate with the army in the ongoing Exercise Ayem Akpatuma.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, said the state government failed to cooperate with the troops because of “the neutrality of the army in the herdsmen-farmers crisis.”
Chukwu said, “The army views the statement made by the former army chief as most unfortunate. While we will not want to take issue with the elder statesman, certain facts need to be clearly stated in the interest of the Taraba people.
“There is the conduct of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma by troops to curb the menace of the herdsmen-farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North-Central region. The army personnel have had to pay the ultimate price for the security in Taraba State. An officer of the army was beheaded on March 16 in Takum, Taraba State, by criminal elements.
“At the inception of the exercise, the Taraba State Government did not cooperate with the army due to the army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen-farmers crisis. The army will continue to remain as such. The army advises the people of Taraba State to continue in their day-to-day activities and be law-abiding.
“Anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land.”
Danjuma’s call belated, says IPOB
On its part, the Indigenous People of Biafra on Sunday said Danjuma’s call was belated.
In a statement made available to The PUNCH by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, the group described Danjuma’s statement as “crying over spilt milk.”
It said what Danjuma said was what IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, had foreseen many years back.
The group said if people like Danjuma, who vilified Kanu then, had supported the IPOB leader’s view, Nigeria would not have degenerated into a state where life meant little or nothing.
In the press statement entitled, ‘Only if they had listened to him (Kanu) four years ago,’ IPOB said people like Danjuma rather called for the head of Kanu over his call for self defence by Nigerians who were massacred with impunity.
The statement read in part, “What is happening before our eyes today was foretold by our leader many years back and had those in power in Abuja listened to him rather than lock him up without trial, thousands of innocent lives could have been saved across Nigeria.
“We state without any equivocation that all those killed by marauding Fulani herdsmen and the Nigerian military that provides them covert support died in vain because people like Danjuma initially supported the oppressors and vilified Mazi Nnamdi Kanu instead of paying careful attention to what he was saying.
“The same way the likes of Danjuma from the Middle Belt have woken up to the reality of the failed state that Nigeria has become, so will the South-East governors, Ohaneze Ndigbo and PANDEF do in the coming months.”
Ex-defence minister in order, says Clark
In his comment, an elder statesman and the convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, said the call by Danjuma was in order.
Clark told The PUNCH that the former defence minister aired the feelings of a majority of Nigerians, adding that no one should allow himself to be slaughtered by bandits, particularly herdsmen.
Clark, a former Minister of Information, said the Buhari-led Federal Government was not doing much to address the growing killings by herdsmen in the country.
He agreed that if the government could not protect its citizens, the people should defend themselves and their territories against the attackers.
He said, “What Gen. Danjuma (retd.) said is very correct. A situation whereby a group of people are moving round the country, killing people, and the government is not doing anything about it is unfortunate.
“The herdsmen move freely and after killing the people, they take over their land to settle. The original owners of the land cannot go back to their homes. So, what kind of a country are we creating? What Danjuma said is correct and in order.”
Yoruba too must be prepared – YCE leader
The Assistant Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Alhaji Suleiman Salami, also said Nigerians should not leave their security completely in the hands of the military and other security agencies because they could fail to defend them in the time of danger.
The 81-year-old spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Osogbo on Sunday.
Salami said he agreed with the submissions of Danjuma and also urged Yoruba people to be prepared to defend themselves and their land from the rampaging herdsmen.
The YCE assistant scribe said, “The General is very right. It will be disastrous for people to be attacked and they fold their arms, expecting the government to defend them. If the government is not forthcoming, the people concerned must find a way to defend themselves.
“The President has kept quiet for a long time on the herdsmen atrocities. I recently told some South-West governors and Obas that if we did not prepare to defend ourselves, these herdsmen would just come one day and kill all of us.”
Buhari, Danjuma know themselves better, says Sani
The lawmaker representing the Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, in his reaction, said Buhari and Danjuma knew each other better than other Nigerians.
Sani, in a post on his social media accounts on Sunday, said Buhari had listened to and understood Danjuma’s message to him.
Sani’s post read, “You can’t claim to know Buhari more than Danjuma does. You can’t claim to know Danjuma more than Buhari does. You can’t lecture Buhari and Danjuma about war and peace. Buhari has heard Danjuma’s radio message and I believe he has decoded the message.
“The nation is tiptoeing through a minefield. The two generals are experienced to know better that its fate lies in every step.”