- Denies deployment of US troops to Borno
Paul Obi in Abuja
As outrage continues to trail the incessant killings arising from clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in several communities in Taraba State, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) wednesday accused politicians in the state of inciting the people against the military and attempting to confront soldiers.
The accusation came on the heels of recent misgivings by residents of the state over the role of the military in quelling the clashes between the warring sides which has led to over a hundred deaths this year alone.
The discontent among residents recently prompted the former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), also an indigene of the state, to accuse the army of bias.
Danjuma had during the convocation of Taraba State University charged the stateâ€™s indigenes to protect themselves against the brutal killings perpetuated by herdsmen.
But speaking to the media wednesday 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, to undermine the military.
â€œCivil 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.
â€œThis is because they provide information, synergy, support and facilitate a conducive environment for military operations. They also assist in winning hearts and minds of the people in support of the military among them,â€ Agim stressed
He expressed regret, however that during the conduct of army exercise, Ayem Akpatuma, some civil authorities especially in Taraba, did not accord the military the desired cooperation.
â€œFor instance, the chairman of Takum Local Government Area in Taraba State did not cooperate with the 93 Battalion but instead projected the military in a bad light to the locals.
â€œHis actions before and during Exercise Ayem Akpatuma were clearly anti-military and he incited his people on many occasions to resist and confront the military.â€
Agim further observed that political leaders must desist from politicising security issues with respect to the Armed Forces of Nigeria, adding: â€œThe military is the strength of every nation, Nigeria inclusive.
â€œIf we talk down 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.â€
The DHQ also debunked claims that troops from the U.S. military will be deployed in Borno State to assist in the ongoing onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The DHQ spokesman explained that what was at stake between the Nigerian military and the U.S. government was the sale of arms and ammunition to the Nigerian government.
He explained that the refusal by the U.S. government during the Barrack Obama administration to sell ammunition to Nigeria was due to negative reports and unsubstantiated allegations of human rights abuse by Amnesty International against the Nigerian military.
â€œThe 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?
â€œI 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,â€ he submitted.
Agim also informed journalists that about 147 herdsmen were arrested during Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, including six cultists, five cattle rustlers and six armed bandits in Benue and Taraba States.
He disclosed that 13 soldiers had been killed so far during the operation, while seven were seriously wounded in action.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) has invited the chairman of Takum LGA in Taraba State, Mr. Shiba Tikari for questioning over his alleged role leading to the incitement against and attempt to confront the military.
According to spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, â€œThe Directorate of Military Intelligence has invited the chairman of Takum Local Government Area, Taraba State, Mr. Shiba Tikari to report for his interview on Friday, 20 April 2018.
â€œThe interview is in connection with the security concerns where three suspects were arrested in Takum. The suspects are currently being investigated by the DMI.â€ Enjoy the view.