The Nigerian Army yesterday inaugurated an investigative panel of inquiry to probe allegations by some Nigerians that its personnel were colluding with Fulani herdsmen in the killing of residents in Taraba and Benue states.At the event held at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, said he was visibly disturbed at the allegations, especially coming from respected senior citizens of the country.
Buratai charged the panel headed by Maj. Gen. Joseph Nimmyel (rtd) to go all out to unravel all circumstances leading to the allegations, vowing that personnel of the service found to have compromised in their services to the country would not be spared.
The inauguration of the panel came barely three weeks after a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), raised the alarm that an ethnic cleansing was being executed in the country, especially in Benue and Taraba states, by Fulani militia in connivance with men of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He asked the people to rise up and defend themselves.
Buratai said the Nigerian Army had over the years conducted operations in line with its constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and providing aid to civil authority whenever it is called upon for such a task.
According to him, the actions of the army in recent military operations, particularly in Taraba State, have been criticised by individuals and groups from across the country.
“Some of these concerns have come from the state governments, non-governmental organisations and very senior citizens from the state. Most recently, on the 24th of March 2018, a former Chief of Army, Lt. Gen. Danjuma (rtd), speaking during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University, alleged that the armed forces colluded with armed bandits and other criminal elements.
“Statements of this nature could damage the reputation of the armed forces and thus cannot be ignored if the army is to continue to earn the trust and respect of the Nigerian populace. Thus it became imperative to set up this panel to confirm the veracity or otherwise of these allegations.”
Buratai said members of the panel were carefully selected based on their proven record of integrity and meticulousness.
“I have directed AHQ DAPP and the various formations to provide you with all the necessary logistics required for the completion of your assigned tasks. You are enjoined to visit all flash points and interact with various stakeholders and interest groups in Taraba State in order to come up with a comprehensive report.”
Meanwhile, an ex-serviceman, Col Bude Nnakee Okafor (rtd), has demanded why the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), under which the Fulani herdsmen are hiding to allegedly kill innocent citizens and destroy their property across the country, has not been declared a terrorist group and banned.
Okafor argued that the proscribed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) never committed up to 0.000 per cent of what the herdsmen had done in the past three years.
“The cattle Fulani have murdered people, destroyed homes and farmlands, confiscated settlements or homesteads, abducted and raped women, compared to allegations against IPOB by the Buhari government and South East governors. Their activities look like a pogrom.’’