By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai has charged his Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and Field Commanders on the need to enhanced internal security amidst rising cases of widespread looting of government and private property across the country in the name of palliatives.
This was contained in a press statement by Colonel Sagir Musa, the Acting Director Army Public Relations on Monday.
The statement further said, the COAS made the call at a meeting he held with the officers at the Army Headquarters Conference Room.
He made it unambiguously clear to the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders that there will be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army (NA).
He directed that the (PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders) must remind all their subordinates that the NA is determined to ensure democratic stability as the only panacea for development and progress.
General Buratai also said – “The best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains stable and steady. We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire. We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.
General Buratai drew the attention of all the participants at the meeting that – “The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilize Nigeria by all means. 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” – he stated.
He also said that right from the onset of ENDSARS protest, the NA has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis. The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.
The NA being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on 14 October 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a United Nigeria. Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.
These agitators are falsely accusing the NA of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary. They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.
Thankfully however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications.
The COAS further said, “Despite all these, the NA has continued to exercise restraint applied all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognized 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”.
He used the opportunity to re-emphasize that none of the PSOs, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers of the NA should be afraid of the ICC for carrying out their legitimate duties as stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other extant laws, rules and regulations of Nigeria. He further averred that –
“They 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. He reiterated that anyone who doubts their commitment to their constitutional responsibilities must be made to know that they remain committed, loyal and unwavering in ensuring the unity, stability and security of our dear country Nigeria. He charged them to show the detractors and other elements of destabilization that they are neither part of them nor in anyway supportive of their activities at all times. He directed that any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively.
According to him -“In dealing with any security threat, they must fully cooperate with personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies and must ensure that everyone is in full compliance with imposed curfews and any other extant security instructions in force”.
General Buratai also alerted the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders that -“The recent activities by unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all costs from security personnel.
“No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past 2 weeks across the country with attendant lost of lives of personnel.”
He charged Commanders to nip in the bud this emerging trend at all cost, and directed them to warn their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to be at maximum alert at all times and to also deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations”.
General Buratai concluded that – “There is no choice between a democratically United, strong and prosperous Nigeria and a nation disunited in a state of anarchy and retrogression. We must all strive for a united, strong, stable and progressive Nigeria”.
At the end of the meeting, the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders resolved to remain loyal to the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari, and to also ensure the unity and indivisibility of our country, assist the Federal Government to bring an end to insecurity across the country and to prevent miscreants and criminals from hijacking the ENDSARS protest nation wide to remain focus and not to be deterred by any local or international threats.
All Commanders have been directed to intensify joint training with the Nigerian Police and other sister security agencies to enhance interagency collaboration and cooperation.