Nigerian army vows to take action as violence, looting spread

Abuja. As attacks and looting of property continues, the top hierarchy of the Nigerian army emerged from an emergency meeting on Monday pledging to remain loyal to the government as well as the unity and indivisibility of the country.

The meeting, which was attended general officers commanding (GOCs) and field commanders on October 26, 2020 at the army headquarters in Abuja, was presided over by the chief of army staff Lt Gen Tukur Buratai.

The army’s pledge of loyalty was apparently designed to give the assurance that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was not threatened by the uprising against police brutality which started on October 8.

Although the protests have been put on hold, violence and looting continues all over the country without any challenge as the police have withdrawn from the streets having suffered serious damage to their image.

The army also denied shooting any protester at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020 which has caused a stir within and outside Nigeria. Initial reports said scores of protesters were killed.

The army now says it has resolved to assist the government to bring an end to insecurity across the country and to “prevent miscreants and criminals from hijacking the ENDSARS protest”.

According to Col Sagir Musa, the acting director of army public relations, it remains focused and will not to be deterred by any local or international threats.

“All Commanders have been directed to intensify joint training with the Nigerian Police and other sister security agencies to enhance inter-agency collaboration and cooperation.”

He reported that at the meeting, Buratai made it unambiguously clear that there will be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the army.

He directed that field commanders tell all their subordinates that the army was determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria.

“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,’’ he quoted Buratai as saying.

Buratai said that events of the past few days have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise 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 stated.

He also said that right from the onset of the protests, the 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 army once it is called out to aid the civil authorities…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.’’

He claimed that these agitators were falsely accusing the army of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary.

“They have continually threatened to report the army 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,’’ he added.

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