By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Army has challenged its Special Forces to prove that they have better training and tactics than terrorists by making the difference and positive impact in the on-going counter-terrorism operations.
However, THISDAY gathered that the killing of 23 soldiers in Metele, Borno State by insurgents and the angry response from Nigerians have stirred up an already simmering disquiet in the military over the continued stay in office of the service chiefs and the handling of the war against insurgents in the North-east.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who charged the soldiers in Maiduguri yesterday, while addressing the Armed Forces Special Forces and Army Strike Group deployed in the North-east, said they were selected specially and deployed in the troubled region after being given special training, saying that is why they are called Special Forces.
Buratai said, “I am here to tell you that you have a great job to do and you must do it properly. You are deployed in the North-east to make a difference because of your special training. If there will be any challenge in terms of capacity, I believe you will fill that gap and you have all it takes to do that.
“If you apply the training that you are given, we will all have cause to be proud to belong to the armed forces of our great country.’’
He warned them against exhibiting cowardice, saying, “We do not have time for the chicken-hearted, the cowards; you all must brace up and be brave. We have done the greatest job so far in the North-east; the greatest in terms of degrading the terrorists.
“We are better trained, better equipped. We know tactics better than them and what is remaining for us is to dominate everywhere and dominate our areas of responsibilities. We must dominate the whole of the North-east.’’
The Army chief added that the terrorists must no longer be allowed the freedom to move about and commit heinous crime and escape, enjoining the soldiers to deal squarely with the insurgents and say no to their vain and invalid threats.
“Henceforth, there should be no dull moment in our operations. There should be no gap, but make a difference,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, a top military source has described the retaining of Service Chiefs as ‘’explosive,’’ saying the implication of their continued stay in office could be seen in what he called the disaffection among the officer corps with the attendant consequences in the war front.
He said, “My friend and others have tried to convince us and give excuses that it is Mr. President that extended their tenure but you still make your subterranean efforts to continue.
“And I have told them that when you are busy receiving awards in order to continue in office, what is going on in the North-east shows you are not fully in control.”
Another source noted that extension of tenure of officers in such positions even when the president constitutionally reserves the right to do so is another way of “looking for trouble.”