The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the call by the former minister of defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma on Nigerians to defend themselves against killer herdsmen is a confirmation to the party’s insistence that Nigerians are no longer feeling secure under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
Speaking in Jalingo, Taraba State on Saturday during the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University (TSU), Jalingo, Danjuma urged people to defend themselves saying they will all die should they rely entirely on the military for protection.
Danjuma who stated unequivocally that the armed forces “are now biased in their operations,” was speaking against the backdrop of herdsmen attacks in Taraba, Adamawa, Benue and Plateau that have turned the states to killing fields.
“The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits. They kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movements, they cover them.
“If you depend on the armed forces to stop the killings you will all die one by one.
“The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba state, must stop in all the states of Nigeria.
“I ask everyone one of you to be alert and defend your territory, your state. You have nowhere else to go.
“Defend your country, defend your state and defend yourselves,” he stated.
In its reaction, PDP’s national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan said Danjuma’s call justifies its stand that the Buhari Presidency must be held responsible for the pain in the land, adding that Nigerians are now daily paying the supreme price because of “the failures of a grossly incompetent leadership and a deceitful ruling party.”
The PDP, in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbodiyan, yesterday, said the pronouncement, coming from a former Chief of Army Staff and former Defence minister is weighty and directly reflects the ugly situation in the country under the APC. “It is instructive to recall that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, both former military leaders, army generals and patriots, had earlier raised the issue of unabated bloodletting and out the former military heads of state, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida had earlier brought everybody’s attention to the issue.
“It is instructive to recall that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida – both former military leaders, army generals and patriots – had earlier raised the issue of continuous bloodletting in our country under the APC and the Buhari presidency.
“Painfully, the APC-controlled Federal Government has not only failed in finding a solution, it is also contending with allegations of conspiracy and acts that are believed to have emboldened attacks against innocent Nigerians.
“Nigerians are no longer feeling secure in their land. Our country has, in close to three years, assumed a status of killing fields where defenceless citizens are despoiled, raped and mowed down by insurgents and marauders in Benue, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno, Plateau, Nasarawa, Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, among other states.
“Unfortunately, the federal government remains aloof and has failed to take decisive steps that will apprehend the masterminds of the carnage,” he said.
The spokesperson for the main opposition party said the country was witnessing what he described as complete government insensitivity.
The party also mentioned allegations of complicity and compromise of security around soft targets and the dishing out of false information, as was the case in Benue, Yobe, Taraba and other states where Nigerians had come under heavy attacks from marauders under the Buhari administration.
“More intriguing is that the Presidency and the APC Federal Government have refused to clear the air on their roles in the alleged compromise of security in troubled areas, particularly the reported withdrawal of troops from Dapchi prior to the abduction of the schoolgirls.
“Nigerians have also yet to see the action taken by President Buhari against the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for flouting a presidential order that he should relocate to troubled Benue State in the heat of attacks on the state.
“Similarly, the strange silence of the Federal Government on the alleged importation of military equipment by APC interests in Kogi State remains ominous.
“The fact that we now have a situation where the government confesses to back-channel negotiations with insurgents, hasty offering of amnesty to marauders and killers, allegations of round-tripping in billions of naira on alleged shady ransom payments and swap deals with insurgents, also leaves much to be desired under the current circumstances.
“While we restate our call for a United Nations’ monitored independent inquest into the security situation in our country, we stand with Nigerians in our moment of national despair,” he added.
The nation is tiptoeing through a minefield—Shehu Sani
For the representative of Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani Buhari and Danjuma know each other better than other Nigerians.
Sani, in a post on his tweeter handle said Buhari had listened to and understood Danjuma’s message.
“You can’t claim to know Buhari more than Danjuma does. You can’t claim to know Danjuma more than Buhari does. You can’t lecture Buhari and Danjuma about war and peace. Buhari has heard Danjuma’s radio message and I believe he has decoded the message.
“The nation is tiptoeing through a minefield. The two generals are experienced to know better that its fate lies in every step,” he twitted.
Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose also reacted saying he was in support of Danjuma’s statement and urged President Buhari listen and heed the warning concerning herdsmen.
“Gen. Danjuma’s position is not different from what I have said in the past. For him to have broken his silence at this time should be enough warning to President Buhari that it is time to go back to Daura. He should leave honourably or be disgraced out of office,” wrote Fayose.
Besides, the convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and former minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark, said the call by Danjuma was in order.
He said the federal government had not done enough to address the growing killings by herdsmen in the country and contended that if the government cannot protect its citizens, the people should defend themselves and their territories against the attackers.
“What Gen. Danjuma (retd) said is very correct. A situation whereby a group of people are moving round the country, killing people, and the government is not doing anything about it is unfortunate.
“The herdsmen move freely and after killing the people, they take over their land to settle. The original owners of the land cannot go back to their homes. So, what kind of a country are we creating? What Danjuma said is correct and in order,” he said.
Army disagrees with Danjuma
However, the Army and the minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, have rejected the former Danjuma’s claim.
The Army Danjuma’s outburst as “most unfortunate” while Dan-Ali said it is a call to anarchy.
The Army, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, said contrary to Danjuma’s accusation, the army remained impartial in its handling of crises.
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the unfortunate statement made by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University in which he categorically asserted that the Armed Forces were colluding with militias and other criminal elements and was unable to provide security for the citizens of Taraba State.
“He further called the people of Taraba State to take up arms and defend themselves. The Nigerian Army views this statement made by the former Chief of Army Staff as most unfortunate at this critical time that the military has embarked upon demilitarisation of the North Central Region of the Country.
“While Nigerian Army would not want to join issues with the Elder Statesman, however, certain facts need to be clearly stated in the interest of the Taraba People and the Nigerian public:
“The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authority whenever called upon to do so. In this light, the authorisation for the conduct of Ex AYEM AKPATUMA was authorised and troops deployed to curb menace of the herdsmen-farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North Central Region amongst others.
“It is on record that the successes so far achieved in Ex AYEM AKPATUMA have been recognised and accepted by Nigerians.
“The public is notified that Nigerian Army personnel have had to pay the supreme price for ensuring the sustenance of security in Taraba State. For instance, a gallant non-commission officer of the Nigerian Army was beheaded on 16 March 2018 in Takum, Taraba State by criminal elements.
“It is noteworthy to state that at the inception of Ex AYEM AKPATUMA, the Taraba State government, did not cooperate with the Nigerian Army due to the Army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen-farmers crisis. The Nigerian Army will continue to remain as such.
“For avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Army advises the people of Taraba State and indeed all other Nigerians to continue in their day-to-day activities and be law abiding as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with accordance with the laws of the land. Every law-abiding citizen is assured of equal protection and security of their lives and property irrespective of his/her person.
Dan-Ali said in a statement by his public relations officer, Colonel Tukur Gusau, urged that Danjuma’s advice should” be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians”.
“A recent comment by one of the elder statesmen wherein he alleged that the military colluded with bandits to kill people and, therefore, called on them to rise and defend themselves outside constitutional provisions. This is highly uncalled for and is an invitation to anarchy and should be disregarded by well- meaning Nigerians.
“The efforts of the Nigeria Armed Forces towards restoration of peace, security and order in Nigeria are evidently clear and Nigerians continue to show appreciation for changing the security environment from what it was before.
“If anyone has evidence of wrongdoings or dereliction of duty against our troops should please bring forward such evidence through the appropriate channels for necessary action,” he said.