*Challenge FG to prove him wrong
*Wea��re not partisan, says Army
*Alarm belated – IPOB
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu (Awka), Chuks Oyema-Aziken, Daniel Tyokua (Abuja), Maurice Okafor (Enugu), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan), Blessing Ibunge (Port Harcourt), Pwanagba Agabus (Jos), Austine Tule, Makurdi (Makurdi), Jibrin Miachi (Kaduna)
Eminent Nigerians yesterday applauded former Defence Minister, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, for exposing alleged ignoble roles of the military in the on-going killing of innocent citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen.
They particularly hailed Danjuma for challenging Nigerians to defend themselves against the marauding herdsmen, because the military lacked the neutrality to protect them.
Danjuma had at the weekend asked Nigerians, especially the people of Taraba State, his home state, to protect themselves or risk being killed by the herdsmen.
Speaking at the convocation of the Taraba State University, Danjuma said: a�?You must rise to protect yourselves from these people; if you depend on the armed forces to protect you, you will all diea�?.
He accused the military of colluding with the herdsmen and creating routes for them to carry out the attacks.
Among those, who praised Danjuma for his boldness and patriotic call, included traditional and religious leaders, senior lawyersm human rights activists, retired top military personnel and politicians.
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope said: “Gen. Danjuma is an authority in the Army. His views should be respected”.
Second Republic Senator, Dr. Junaid Mohammad, said: “As far as I am concerned I have not seen anything like that”.
Senator Ben Collins Ndu, who served in the National Assembly in the Fourth Republic, described Danjuma as an a�?elder statesman, a Nigerian who has seen it all; whose views must be respected. More so, having been in the Army where he rose to the rank of Chief of Army Staff, his words must not be taken for granteda�?.
Senator Ndu described the current rate of insecurity in Nigeria, ranging from the Boko Haram menace in the North East, the wanton destruction of life and property across the North Central and the Middle Belt states of Kogi and Benue, by Fulani herdsmen as very alarming.
a�?If the situation has gotten to the point where a former Minister of Defence and former Chief of Army Staff will openly ask Nigerians to defend themselves and not to rely on the Nigerian military, then Nigerians should not take his words for a joke.
a�?This is because a man of his calibre, I am sure he is privy to a lot of information that many Nigerians dona��t have access to and may never have till the end of their lives. In fact, the Nigerian government should sit up if things have gotten this bad,a�? he said.
In his reaction, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said: a�?He (Danjuma) is right. It has become increasingly evident that the government not only condones herdsmen insurgency, but actually encourages it for ethnic, religious and political reasons. Gen. Danjuma should know, being a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defencea�?.
Dr. Godsmark Eddy Ugwu, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), said the high insecurity in the country is a minus on the part of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Ugwu said that the All progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has not achieved much, a�?but in its bid to project it’s battered image ahead of the 2019 general elections and convince Nigerians to vote for it again, adopted the strategy of manipulating the Armya�?.
He said inspite of government claims and attempt to silence people on the issue, what happened with the acclaimed adoption and release of Dapchi schoolgirls was more than imaginary.
A former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja said the statement by Danjuma showed that the Buhari-led government lacks capacity to protect Nigerians.
Through his Media Assistant, Lanre Latinwo, Ladoja said that “Danjuma as a war veteran has observed that the present government lacks the capacity to defend Nigerians. The government can’t provide security”.
He ruled out that the statement may lead to anarchy, saying, “it is only when you are attacked you defend yourself”.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bitrus Kaze, commended the General for exposing the alleged complicit role of the armed forces in fighting terrorism in the country.
Kaze said: “I join all men of goodwill in celebrating a reputable figure of national conscience, General T.Y. Danjuma, who has exposed the complicit roles of the armed forces in the anti-terrorism war. The precarious situation makes his advice for self-defence inevitable and well timeda�?.
Kaze urged “leading fathers of the nation such as Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Second Republic President Shehu Shagari and former military governor of kaduna State, Col. Dangiwa Umar, to heed the clarion call to speak out and halt Nigeria from heading the Somalia-way”.
The President of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), Rev. Dachollom Datiri, challenged the Federal Government to rise to its primary responsibility of protecting defenceless Nigerians against Fulani herdsmen invading rural communities.
Datiri gave the challenge during the coronation of Gwom Turu, Da. Ezekiel James Dalyop, at RCM Primary School Turu, in Vwang District of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
He urged community leaders to join hands with traditional rulers in protecting their subjects against the evil being perpetrated by herdsmen with the sole aim of marginalizing and reducing Christians to second class citizens and refugees in their land.
Col. Chinedu Owhonda (rtd) based in Rivers State, said that the call by Danjuma was not a�?surprising to me, in the sense that a lot of heinous crimes that has taken place are being perpetrated by even the security operatives who are supposed to protect Nigerians.
a�?But, unfortunately, what we are seeing is a situation where there are collaboration, collusion and connivers among security agencies. As we speak, there is nowhere that is safe in Nigeria.
a�?You remember what happened in Taraba, the killings there. What happened in Plateau and Benue states, where so many people were killed? There is no answer to it even when an IGP was sent to Benue, to perform his primary role as a police force. Rather he went there and was insulting the chief security officer who happens to be the governor of the state.
a�?So, if Danjuma came up, a seasoned retired Army officer, a seasoned stakeholder of this country, somebody that fought to unite this country that people are trying to disintegrate today cries out, he has reasons for saying that. I am not surprised and not even shocked with what he saida�?.
In Ibadan, a human right activist and lawyer, Comrade Femi Aborisade, said that Danjumaa��s call is an indication of the frustration and loss of confidence in the government.
His words: “The call by Danjuma that Nigerians should resort to self-defence is an indication of extreme frustration and absolute loss of confidence in the capacity of the Buhari government to guarantee the security of lives in Nigeria.
“From the social implications point of view, though the call has the likely negative consequences of uncontrollable proliferation of arms and jungle justice, it would appear that the call was made in the face of the painful and dreadful reality of unprecedented state of insecurity and unprecedented wave of mass murders, technically called genocide, by the monstrous armed herdsmen, shedding blood with reckless abandon in a state of impunity, across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“From the legal point of view, self-defence is permitted under the lawa�?.
The President-General of Tiv socio-cultural umbrella body, the Mzough u Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege, aligned himself with the advice of Gen. Danjuma.
In a chat with the AUTHORITY in Makurdi on Sunday, Ujege said that a�?for someone in the position of Danjuma, an elder statesman, to have made such a weighty allegation is only a confirmation of what the people of Benue State have always cried out over.
a�?Gen. Danjuma is an extremely experienced statesman. As one who was Chief of Army Staff; as one who held very strategic positions in the country, when he speaks, you know he is speaking from a point of knowledge and I totally align myself with his observationsa�?.
The leaders of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Middle Belt Conscience Guard, also commented on Danjumaa��s charge that Nigerians should defend themselves against the herdsmen.
CAN President, Rev.Samson Ayokunle, on Sunday through his media assistance, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said Danjuma’s comments should be properly examined by the Federal Government and security agencies.
He said: a�?CAN is not in support of the statement, but the government and security agencies should think beyond the General’s comment; they should asked themselves what had informed the said commenta�?.
A Kaduna-based retired soldier-turned politician cum publisher, Ibrahim Modecai, equally threw his weight behind Danjuma.
Modecai said: a�?I agree with Danjuma that people should rise up and defend themselves because the Army is backing bandits to kill people and invade communities in parts of the country.
a�?How can I sit down watching criminals killing me and my family for just no reason and there is nobody ready to protect me? From his background, Danjuma is talking from experience as a former Chief of Army Staff and former Minister of Defence.
a�?The circumstances surrounding the various attacks in all the places are enough for anybody to say nothing less than what he has said. Just look at the drama that took place at the kidnapping of Dapchi schoolgirls and their returns.
a�?That drama is enough evidence. Just tell me, where did the Boko Haram terrorists get fly-boat and plane from? It is unfortunate!a�?
The President of the Middle Belt Conscience Guard, Raymond Enero, urged the government and the international community to hold the former minister for defence responsible should the region descend into chaos.
Enero said that the group would not hesitate to drag Danjuma to court if his statement resulted to violence in the Middle Belt.
*Danjuma has vindicated Nnamdi Kanu, says IPOB
But, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday said that the alarm raised by Danjuma was belated as so many have been mauled down by Fulani herdsmen with the covert support of the Nigerian Army.
IPOB insisted that had Nigerians, especially people in the class of Danjuma listened to Nnamdi Kanu rather than join his oppressors, they would have checked the impunity of the Buhari administration.
The statement signed by Comrade Emma Powerful, Media and Publicity Secretary for IPOB read in part: a�?Today, what the supreme leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, said in 2014 is being re-echoed across the political landscape of Nigeria by no other than the very influential Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, who can be rightly classified as part of the northern ruling elite. a�?Every categorical statement, prediction and utterance of our leader has come to pass. What is happening before our eyes today was foretold by our leader many years back and had those in government in Abuja listened to him rather than lock him up without trial, thousands of innocent lives would have been saved across Nigeriaa�?.
*Army faults Danjumaa��s allegation
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has picked holes in Danjumaa��s statement.
The Army said that it viewed the statement as most unfortunate at a�?this critical time that the military has embarked upon demilitarisation of the North Central region of the country.
a�?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.
a�?The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authorities whenever called upon to do so. In this light, 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.
a�?It is on record that the successes so far achieved in Ex-AYEM AKPATUMA have been recognised and accepted by Nigerians,a�? the Director, Army Public Relations, Bri-Gen. Texas Chukwu, said in a statement on Sunday.
*Challenge FG to prove him wrong