The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Burutai has absolved the personnel of Nigerian Army of wrong doing during the ‘EndSARS’ protests in Lagos, contrary to a widespread public opinion.
This position was taken on Monday, October 26, 2020 during an important meeting between Burutai and his Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding(GOCs) and Field Commanders at the Army Headquarters Conference Room.
In a statement released by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa on Monday, he said that the agitators were falsely accusing Nigerian Army of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary.
Burutai said at the meeting that the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented the troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.
The statement reads in parts,
“Right from the onset of ENDSARS protest, the Nigerian Army has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis. The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the Nigerian Army 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 14 October 2020 of our resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.
“A large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have thankfully started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria.
Burutai also admonished all the PSOs, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers of Nigerian Army not 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.
“They have every right under the Constitution to carry out assigned and legitimate roles of maintaining law and order in aid of civil authorities and other security agencies. He reiterated that anyone who doubts their commitment to their constitutional responsibilities must be made to know that they remain committed, loyal and unwavering in ensuring the unity, stability and security of our dear country Nigeria.
“They have continually threatened to report the Nigerian Army to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families”.
In the same vein, the Army Chief has also charged the senior army personnel to show the detractors and other elements of destabilization that they were neither part of them nor in anyway supportive of their activities at all times. Burutai had therefore directed that any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law abiding civilians must be met with quick and decisive response.
Meanwhile, Burutai has also instructed the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders that there would be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army. He similarly directed them to make it clear to all their subordinates that the Nigerian Army was determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria which he described as the only panacea for development and progress.
Moreso, General Buratai has reiterated the commitment of Nigerian Army to the nation’s democracy and assured that agents of destabilization would not be allowed to set the country on fire.
“The best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains stable and steady. We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire. We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.
In addition, Burutai has averred that the events of the past few days in the country have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilize Nigeria by all means. He lamented that the individuals, groups and other undesirable elements had hijacked the peaceful #ENDSARS protest marches which resulted to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. Burutai added that the acts had led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
“Despite all these, the Nigerian Army has continued to exercise restraint and applied all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognized 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”.
However, General Burutai has advise the army personnel to cooperate fully with the personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies while dealing with with any security threat. He also charged the army personnel to ensure that everyone is in full compliance with imposed curfews and any other extant security instructions in force.
Besides, Burutai also alerted the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders on the recent activities by unscrupulous elements to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel.
“The recent activities by unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel. No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past 2 weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel.
Burutai has therefore charged the commanders to nip in the bud the emerging trend of arms acquisition at all cost. He also 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.
The meeting was however concluded with a resolve by the
the PSOs, GOCs and Field Commanders to remain loyal to the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari; ensure the unity and indivisibility of the country and
assist the Federal Government to bring an end to insecurity across the country; and also to prevent miscreants and criminals from hijacking the ENDSARS protest nation wide.
Moreso, the meeting also resolved to remain focussed and not to be deterred by any local or international threats; while all commanders were directed to intensify joint training with the Nigerian Police and other sister security agencies to enhance interagency collaboration and cooperation.