* Takum LG chair fingered
* Denies deployment of US troops to Borno
By Paul Obi in Abuja
As controversy continues to trail the killings in Taraba State, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ)Â WednesdayÂ accused politicians in the state of inciting the people against the military and attempting to confront soldiers.
The accusation came on the heels of the recent misgivings by indigenes of the state on the role of the military in quelling the herdsmen and local militias’ killings in the state.
The discontent by the indigenes of the state on the role of the military recently prompted a former Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), also an indigene of the state, to accuse the military of bias.
Danjuma had during the graduation ceremony at Taraba State University charged the state indigenes to protect themselves against brutal killings perpetuated by herdsmen.
But speaking to journalistsÂ WednesdayÂ in Abuja, the Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, explained that the rampant cases of conflicts across the country had overstretched the military, which had been worsened by deliberate attempts by some civil authorities, particularly in Taraba State to undermine the military.
“Civil authorities at all levels such as community chiefs, local government area chairmen and state governors are often instrumental to the success of internal security operations.
“This is because they provide information, synergy, support and facilitate a conducive environment for military operations. They also assist in winning minds and hearts of the people in support of the military among them,” Agim stressed.
He said: “Regrettably, during rhe conduct of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, some civil authorities especially in Taraba State did not accord the military the desired cooperation.
“For instance, the Chairman of Takum Local Government Area in Taraba State did not cooperate with 93 Battalion but instead portrayed the military in bad light to the locals.
“His actions before and during the Exercise Ayem Akpatuma were clearly anti-military and he incited his people on many occasions to resist and confront the military.”
Agim further observed that political leaders must desist from politicising security issues and the Armed Forces of Nigeria, adding: “The military is the strength of every nation, Nigeria inclusive. If we talk down on our military, it will dampen their morale, the enemy will be emboldened to cause more havoc and the consequences on our citizens will be dire.”
The DHQ also debunked claims that troops from the United States (US) military were to be deployed in Borno State to assist in the ongoing onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The director explained that what was at stake between the Nigerian military and the US government was the sale of arms and ammunition to the Nigerian government.
He contended that the refusal by the US government during former President Barrack Obama’s administration to sell ammunition to Nigeria was due to negative reports and unsubstantiated allegations of human rights abuse by Amnesty International (AI) against the Nigerian military.
“The question is, why should we have an international organisation that wants to see us perpetually at war without having the weapons to fight that war?” He asked.
“I can tell you emphatically that AI is against Nigeria, not the Nigerian military, they want to see Nigeria perpetually at war, they know that if Nigeria is at peace, we can take care of ourselves,” he submitted.
Agim also informed journalists that about 147 herdsmen were arrested during the Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, including six cultists, five rustlers and
six bandits in Benue and Taraba States.
He added that 13 soldiers have been killed so far during the operation, while seven were seriously wounded in action.