…vows to protect democratic stability
Emmanuel Onani, Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has directed Principal Staff Officers and General Officers Commanding the various divisions, as well as field commanders, to deal with acts of subversion against democratic governance in the country.
This was as the COAS restated the Army’s commitment to democracy, saying it remained “the only panacea for development and progress”.
Buratai gave the directive, Monday, at a meeting with the PSOs, GOCs, and Field Commanders, which held at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
According to the COAS, some unnamed individuals and their sponsors were determined to destabilise the country, given their dispositions and utterances.
This comes about a week after the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos by men in military uniform.
According to findings by Amnesty International (AI), at least 12 persons were killed in the shooting incident.
In the face of the claims, however, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has set up a Board of Inquiry, charged with the responsibility of investigating the circumstances surrounding the ugly development, and other related issues.
At the operational meeting with strategic commanders, Buratai revealed that a total of 10 Ak-47 rifles were lost to “miscreants” in the last two weeks of protests across the country.
While the protests may have abated, suspected hoodlums have gone on rampage, looting warehouses bearing food items and other palliatives.
Speaking on the developments, Buratai said: “The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilize Nigeria by all means.
“These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country.
“These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.”
He noted that: “Right from the onset of the #6 protest, the Nigerian Army has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis”.
He claimed that: “The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.
“The Nigerian Army being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on October 14, 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.
“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.
“These agitators are falsely accusing the NA of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary.
“They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.
“Thankfully, however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications.”
According to him: “Despite all these, the Nigerian Army has continued to exercise restraint applied all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised Rules of Engagement as contained in our published Standard Operating Procedures for Internal Security Operations which are derived from the International Human Rights Laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.”
He has, however, charged the commanders “to nip in the bud this emerging trend at all cost”, even as he directed them to warn their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to be at maximum alert at all times and to also deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.”
Buratai, nonetheless, used the opportunity to charge the PSOs, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers not to be afraid of the ICC for carrying out their legitimate duties as stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other extant laws, rules and regulations of Nigeria.