• ‘We are doing our best to protect Nigerians’
• Allegation evidence of Buhari failure, says PDP
• Rejects president’s statement on criticism
The Nigerian Army yesterday warned that any citizen caught in possession of arms and ammunition would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The army gave the warning in a statement by its spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, in reaction to an accusation against it by Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff.
At the convocation of the Taraba State University on Saturday, Danjuma accused the armed forces of colluding with armed bandits to foment violence.
He also alleged that the armed forces were unable to adequately provide security for the citizens of Taraba State and called on the people to defend themselves.
In the reaction, Chukwu said: “The army views this statement as most unfortunate at this critical time that the military has embarked upon the demilitarisation of the North Central region of the country.’’
According to him, certain facts needed to be clearly stated in the interest of the Taraba people and Nigerians in general. Chukwu said the army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authority whenever called upon to do so.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Chukwu said it was in line with this that the army was authorised to conduct “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma’’ in six states, including Taraba.
The army spokesman explained that under the exercise, troops were deployed to curb herdsmen/farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North central zone, amongst others.
“It is noteworthy to state that at the inception of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, the Taraba State government did not cooperate due to the army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen-farmers crisis.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the army advises the people of Taraba State and indeed all other Nigerians to continue in their day-to-day activities and be law-abiding as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the call by Danjuma on Nigerians to defend themselves against killers is yet another evidence of the tragic situation into which the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have plunged the nation.
The party said Gen. Danjuma’s statement justified its stand that the Buhari presidency and the ‘dysfunctional’ APC must be held responsible for the agony of the citizens. “Nigerians are now daily paying the supreme price because of the failure of a grossly incompetent leadership and a deceitful ruling party,” it said.
The PDP, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday said the pronouncement, coming from an army general, a former chief of army staff and former defence minister of Danjuma’s status, was weighty and directly reflected the ugly situation in the country under the APC.
According to PDP, the fact that citizens and communities across the country are now resorting to self-defence is also a clear demonstration that Nigerians, across board, have completely lost confidence in Buhari and the APC.
The opposition party recalled that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida had earlier raised the issue of un-abating bloodletting and pogrom in country under the APC and the Buhari presidency.
“Painfully, the APC-controlled Federal Government has not only failed in
finding a solution it is also contending with allegations of conspiracy and acts that are believed to have emboldened attacks against innocent Nigerians.
“Nigerians are no longer feeling secure in their land. Our country has, in close to three years, assumed a status of killing field where defenceless citizens are despoiled, raped and mowed down by insurgents and marauders in Benue, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau, Nasarawa, Rivers, Enugu and Kogi, among other states.
“Unfortunately, the Buhari-led APC Federal Government remains aloof and has failed to take decisive steps that will apprehend the masterminds of the carnage.
“Instead, what we are witnessing are complete government insensitivity, allegations of complicity and compromise of security around soft targets and dishing out of false information, as was the case in Benue, Yobe, Taraba and other states where Nigerians have come under heavy attacks from marauders.”
Also yesterday, the PDP rejected as undemocratic and completely unacceptable, President Buhari’s comment that security agencies would deal decisively with any persons or group that dared to criticise the handling of security under his administration.
In a statement, the party said the president himself politicised the Dapchi issue when he boasted that his response time was faster than that of former President Goodluck Jonathan. “Buhari’s pronouncement on alleged politicisation of security issues is targeted at emasculating the opposition and those with contrary opinions to the views of the APC interests,” it said.
According to the opposition party, “the president’s statement completely betrays a dangerous political intolerance and utter disdain for the rule of law and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and opinion of citizens in a democracy.
“We are constrained to remind President Buhari that our nation is no longer under the rule of military decrees and tribunals where security agents ‘deal(t) decisively’ with citizens for holding opinions.”