By Kingsley Nwezeh
The Nigerian Army yesterday warned a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi and other opinion merchants to exercise restraint not to soil the reputation of the military by their unsavoury and inciting comments.
The army, in a statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, dismissed Gumi’s allegations that Christian soldiers were responsible for killing bandits, saying troops deployment was not done on religious or ethnic lines.
Gumi, in a viral video, was heard telling a group of bandits that they were being targeted by Christian soldiers and not Muslim troops.
The statement expressed concern about “the video showing Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits.
“In the video clip, the Islamic scholar was seen telling the bandits that the soldiers involved in most attacks against them were non-Muslims. He further stated that they should be aware that soldiers are divided into Muslims and non-Muslims.”
The statement added that while the Nigerian Army would not want to take issue with Gumi, it, however, restated that as a national institution, it does not deploy troops along ethnic or religious lines.
“Therefore, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and other opinion merchants are please enjoined to exercise restraint not to drag the image and reputation of one of the most reliable national institutions to disrepute,” it stated.
It warned against comments that could tarnish the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army, saying they are not only inimical but tended towards creating bad blood amongst Nigerians.
The statement said most operations conducted by the Nigerian Army were done in strict adherence to rules of engagement, code of conduct and respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“It is therefore disturbing that an opinion leader would deliberately want to disparage the Nigeria Army to portray it in bad light. The Nigerian Army wishes to seize this opportunity to advise opinion leaders to be more courteous while expressing their views, taking into cognisance the imperative for national security, particularly at this difficult times when our gallant troops have redoubled their efforts to tackle the myriads of security challenges facing our dear nation.
“What our troops need now is public support to discharge their responsibility effectively and in the most professional manner,” the army stated.