Chief of Army Staff (CAOS) Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika
Ihejirika: We will confront terrorists fire-for-fire
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has said that it is no longer difficult to discern who the real beneficiaries of the unfortunate bloodletting in Borno State were.
The party’s position, came as the Chief of Army Staff (CAOS) Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, yesterday warned terrorists, especially in the northern part of the country, against any further attack on innocent citizens as he said security agents would retaliate.
The party said from the list of suspects already apprehended by the law enforcement agencies and the ones currently being investigated in connection with the Boko Haram crisis, there are enough exhibits to reveal the partisan affiliations of the group.
A statement issued yesterday by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu, said ANPP’s attention had been drawn to media reports in which Basharu, said President Goodluck Jonathan was too busy to visit the troubled state.
In apparent reference to the arrests of two senators who are leading members of the PDP in Borno State in connection with the insurgency group, ANPP said it is no longer strange to associate politics with the current insecurity in the state.
While takingup issues with the chairman of the Borno State chapter of the PDP, Alhaji Baba Basharu, over his defence of the president, Eneukwu said the necessity of the presidential visit overrides any partisan interest and fears.
According to him, his inability to visit the crisis-torn North-east state, ANPP said none of the reasons given are justifiable considering the agony the people are going through.
He said the party was particularly concerned by Basharu’s contention that the PDP members in Borno are not bothered by the situation in the state.
“We believe that the suspects already apprehended by the law enforcement and the ones currently being investigated in connection with the Boko Haram crisis, are enough exhibits to reveal the partisan affiliations of the sponsors of the unfortunate bloodletting in Borno State. What is more, the litany of victims is manifest testimony of the political party feeling the real pain as a result of the violence, “ he said.
Eneukwu urged the National Leadership of the PDP to call their State Chairman to order before he turns their house upside down.
“The attention of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has been drawn to media reports where the State Chairman of the Borno State PDP, Alhaji Baba Basharu, said President Goodluck Jonathan is too busy to visit the troubled state, and that the PDP members in Borno are not bothered by it.
“Out of the whole jaundiced goulash that the chairman was able to spew, we can only marvel at the extent a man can go to grab media attention and cheap political relevance.
“To start with, no Nigerian is ignorant of the duty Mr. President owes every citizen of this great country as the father of the nation. It takes preeminence over his personal proclivities, fears, partisan affiliations, and evolving interests and duties.
Eneukwu said contrary to what Basharu asserted, there is no other way to build a country than to ruminate on the emerging problems of your people, and to run to their side in physical show of solidarity when the chips are down.
According to the ANPP spokesman, the absence of such leadership gestures from the president is bound to provide fertile ground for innuendoes and unnecessary bad blood.
He described the PDP’s defence of President Jonathan as unnecessary and lacking in facts since the President himself has explained during his third media chat that he has not visited Borno State because the airport there was not functional at the time he planned to visit.
The Chief of Army Staff who sounded the note of warning yesterday, while he was on an official visit to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, said anyone caught harbouring criminals would be also be dealt with.
In his words: “I want to tell those who specialise in killing innocent citizens under any name whatsoever to desist or face the wrath of the security agents. Obey simple instruction, especially ‘stop and search.’ If you harbour criminals in your houses and they shoot from your window, be ready to face the gun shots of the security agents too. Therefore, expose these criminals, rather than harbouring them.”
He disclosed that the Joint Task Force (JTF) last week foiled planned terrorist attacks on the country.
Ihejirika, who said his visit to the Force Headquarters was as a result of inter-agency collaboration between the military, police, State Security Service and other sister security agencies in the country, noted that much have been achieved through the collaboration.
“Within the last one week, we have recovered nothing less than 30 different assorted weapons; we have recovered money hidden in the engine compartment of vehicles by these terrorists; we have recovered both vehicles prepared for bombing and attacks. So I want to tell you that the military and police are very professional. Gone are the days when we take actions without calculating their consequences.
“Certain terrorists have also been allowed to escape just because the collateral damage was considered unacceptable.”
Ihejirika also reacted to the allegation on the killing of innocent citizens by the Amnesty International where he pointed out that the military as well as the police do not take kindly to indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens.
“No well meaning citizen of any nation should tolerate any harm on innocent citizens. The military, the army in particular, our primary job is to protect innocents citizens. And this is what is inculcated in the mind of every officer and men, right from the recruiting stage.
He described as malicious and an attempt to demoralise the security agencies the frequent reports and allegations that the military do not consider the civilain population during their operation stating that motive is aimed at distracting the operative from doing their jobs.
“So most of the allegations you are seeing are malicious and meant to distract the security agencies of the task of riding the nation of terrorism. These allegations always come at a time the security agencies are making tremendous progress. When we do operations and arrest a lot of these hoodlums, recover their weapons the following week someone will come into the air with some allegation to dampen the moral of officers and to discourage action,” the Army boss stated.
Abubakar, in his remarks, expressed gratitude to the military for the new spirit of collaboration and pledged that his administration will do everything possible to advance the course.