Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, on Monday ordered military commanders and troops to descend on hoodlums who are looting and destroying various warehouses, public and private properties across the country while searching for COVID-19 palliatives.
The order came less than 72 hours after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, also gave the same order to Commissioners of Police, AIGs and other top officers to reclaim peace in the public spaces.
Daily Trust reported that the COAS had at about 10:20am on Monday summoned a meeting of top army commanders with a view to addressing the current security challenges facing the country, #ENDSARS protests, alleged killing of protesters at Lekki by soldiers, ongoing looting, among other critical issues.
Rising from the meeting, the army spokesperson, Col. Sagir Musa, who conveyed what Buratai discussed with his men at a press briefing, said the COAS made it clear to his men that there must be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
“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 two weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel,” Musa quoted the COAS to have said during the meeting.
Buratai said the Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding, and Field Commanders must reiterate to all their subordinates that the Nigerian Army was determined to ensure democratic stability in the country as the only panacea for development and progress.
The Army chief charged the commanders to nip in the bud the trend at all cost, and further directed them to warn their troops on internal security or 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.”
While denying that the army masterminded the miscreants involved in the arson, vandalism and looting of the public and private property going on in many cities, he said during the protests, the NA has continued to exercise restraint and applied all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognized Rules of Engagement.
“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.
“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 in 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.
The military chief warned the PSOs, GOCs, Field Commanders and other officers and soldiers of the NA not to be afraid of the ICC being threatened against NA.
He alleged that there was a plan to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities, saying they are 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 said, “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.”