The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has met with the General Officers Commanding, GOCs, of the Divisions and Operation Commanders of the Nigerian Army over the #EndSARS protests.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the meeting, which has proceeded to a closed-door session at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, was aimed at brainstorming on the protest’s threat to national security.
Addressing newsmen before receding to the closed-door session, Mr Buratai disclosed that the meeting would discuss operational and current security issues in the country.
He frowned at the call by some international organisations to deny military officers travel visas over alleged violation of human rights of some Nigerians during the protest.
He said: “Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better.
“The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here”.
Emerging out of the closed-door meeting, Mr Buratai assured that, “subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation will not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilization”.
He said: “The Nigerian Army is 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.”
“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 destabilization.”
The Army Chief categorically told the GOCs and the Field Commanders that “there will be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.”
He directed them to “reiterate to all their subordinates that the NA is determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria as the only panacea for development and progress.”
The COAS further noted that, “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 #BNDSARS 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 added.
He revealed further that, “right from the onset of ENDSARS protest, the NA 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 NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.
“The NA 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.
“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”.
He however noted that, “despite all these, the NA has continued to exercise restraint 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”.
Mr Buratai, therefore, charged the GOCs, Commanders and soldiers not to be afraid of any threat, stating that, “none of the PSO, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers of the NA should 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.”
He charged them to “show the detractors and other elements of destabilization that they are neither part of them nor in anyway supportive of their activities at all times. He directed that any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively.”
According to him, “In dealing with any security threat, they must fully cooperate with personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies and must ensure that everyone is in full compliance with imposed curfews and any other extant security instructions in force.”
He also alerted them of potential security threats resulting from the bugling of security armouries by the hoodlums, adding that “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. He charged Commanders to nip in the bud this emerging trend at all cost, and 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.”