June 24, (THEWILL)- The Nigerian Army has denied reports that its men have been colluding with bandits.
Prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, while appearing on ARISE TV Morning Show on Wednesday, 23 June 2021, had alleged that soldiers are colluding with marauding bandits responsible for various crimes and atrocities against Nigerians.
But Army spokesperson, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement, said contrary to Gumi’s claims, “The Nigerian Army remains a symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with global best practices of adherence to the rules of engagement and protection of the Fundamental Human Rights of the citizenry.”
He described the allegation as a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of its personnel.
Nwachukwu’s statement declared: “The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate, but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country.
“It is essential to remind ourselves that these same military, being accused of connivance, are the ones who recently put their lives on the line to rescue abductees of the Government Secondary School, Birnin Yawuri, from kidnappers.
“While the NA will not attempt to excuse the possibility of black sheep amongst its fold, it must be stated unambiguously that it will not condone any form of sabotage or aiding and assisting the enemy by any personnel, as provisions for dealing decisively with such acts are crystallised in Section 45 (1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
He called opinion leaders and commentators to be patriotic by being agents of peace rather than fuelling the security situation.
He said:”It must also be pointed out that, while the military is very much receptive to constructive criticism, it should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals. It is also necessary to reiterate that patriotism must be taken to a trajectory where subversive conversations on the state are brought to the barest minimum.
“Opinion leaders are enjoined to demonstrate patriotism in building the peace, rather than being agents of destabilisation, thereby aggravating the current security challenges facing the nation.”
Sheikh Gumi, a former Army Captain, first emerged on the bandit negotiation scene in February after he went on a mission to a group of bandits in their forest hideout in Zamfara State.
Since then, he has undertaken other such visits to Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states, urging bandits to free their captives, mostly students and children.
But despite his mediatory role, Gumi is widely accused of sympathising with bandits.
He has stirred controversy for advocating talks and a “blanket amnesty” for the criminal herdsmen.
As far as Gumi can see, there will be no end to kidnapping and abduction of school children until the government agrees to negotiate with the bandits; who, he says, are ready to give up their arms if their demands are met.