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DHQ Warns APC Over Incitement of Soldiers Who Refused To Fight B/Haram
In a strongly-worded direct response to a recent statement by the Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, backing soldiers who refused to fight Boko Haram, which the military considered as mutiny, the DHQ on Friday warned politicians, especially those campaigning for the 2015 general elections against meddling in purely administrative, operational and tactical decisions of the services “that could undermine the country’s security system.”
This is coming as Amaechi’s party, the All Progressives Congress pushed back on an earlier statement by the Buhari Campaign Organisation, saying the Rivers State governor did not encourage mutiny but merely said the military personnel could always assert their right to good welfare packages even as they engage in the defence of the nation’s territorial boundaries.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI) Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, gave this stern caution to politicians in a press statement, urging them to be careful in their utterances in relation to the recent General Court-Martial where several soldiers were condemned to death.
Olukolade said that in view of the series of insinuations, allegations and false claims being made by certain activists and politicians on the legal and disciplinary process in the Nigerian military, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) finds it necessary to call on politicians to avoid using the forum or medium of their political campaigns to incite or endorse acts of indiscipline in the nation’s military establishments.
According to him, this call has become necessary as the trend got to another level on Tuesday when a prominent politician declared that “The soldiers have the right to protest against Federal Government’s failure to fully equip them”.
Amaechi, while speaking recently on the outcome of the military court-martial, said that the soldiers were entitled to protest.
“It was expected that the fellow quoted or his party would have made immediate moves to correct this fallacy or erroneous impression being propagated especially in view of the level of knowledge of his principal and candidate in forthcoming elections”, the DDI said.
Unfortunately, Olukolade noted, no such gesture seem to be forthcoming.
He emphasized: “There is therefore the need to caution against the propagation of this dangerous idea before it causes more problems.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, the military institution rejects this declaration and its intention in all ramifications. The military law as recognized by the Constitution of the Federation is an appropriate legal document for the management of affairs of the military.
“The processes it outlines for handling military offences remain legal and will continue to be applied in the interest of the nation’s security and democracy.”
The Defence Spokesman stressed that individuals and interest groups seeking to play to the gallery by being meddlesome, sensational or mischievous in interpreting developments in the military are advised to moderate their activities with some decorum.
It is clear, Olukolade stated, that the false accusations that depended on unsubstantiated allegations being peddled on the military operations in Nigeria are intended to tarnish the reputation of Nigerian military and its leadership.
He further warned: “The campaign apparently aimed at undermining constituted authority in the military must not be encouraged. It is obvious that most of the comments and sensational stories in the media have been oblivious of the fact that the processes are still ongoing and yet to be concluded.”
The DDI clarified that “the war on terror is not all about equipment but mindset of both the military and the public, adding that “inciting remarks can only compound the situation for all involved”.
He assured that the military was resolved to prosecute the counter terrorism campaign with all sense of commitment by the rank and file.
Olukolade remarked that the tendency to suggest or encourage dissention in the system would not yield any advantage to any well-meaning Nigerian.
“Politicians are therefore requested to guide their utterances as the military remains a veritable institution of the state. Those who seek to undermine or destroy it should be prevailed upon to stop the mission considering the fact that the institution remains indispensable to government and its process under any dispensation.
“The Nigerian military reiterates its commitment to defending the nation’s democracy. Individuals and personalities are enjoined to refrain from pronouncement and attitude that seek to undermine the established justice/disciplinary procedures and processes of the military system,” he said.
According to Olukolade, this counsel is very vital to the excellent civil-military relations which is crucial to the nation’s development.
He insisted that “incitement to protests or mutiny in the military is an ill wind that will ultimately blow no good to anyone.”
Olukolade continued: “The military authorities should not be blackmailed with a view to forestalling the exercise of due command and control over the system as established by law in the interest of the nation.
“The Nigerian military has resolved not to yield to whims and caprices of those seeking to undermine its system purely for populist or political ends.”
APC Pushes Back on protests…
The APC has said it is fully in support of the recent call by Amaechi for the military to always assert their right to good welfare packages even as they engage in the defence of the nation’s territory.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY on telephone, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, however appeared to have modified what Amaechi said, stating that though the party does not support disobedience to military rules, the APC saw nothing wrong in Amaechi’s position that soldiers should fight for their rights.
“Amaechi did not say Soldiers should protest. What he said was that they should improve the welfare of the soldiers and soldiers have a right to welfare and proper treatment while on national assignment.
“We are fully in support of the view that soldiers’ welfare must be improved but that does not mean that they will not respect the regulations governing the military institution.
“You see, when you enlist in the military, you are governed by the Act establishing the military and military laws. So, that is a completely different thing. But for us as Nigerians, we believe that the federal government must keep its own side of the bargain so that they don’t send soldiers to the war front without ammunition and equipment.
“This is the position of my party that as much as soldiers must abide by the dictates of the military Act, the nation also owes them the duty to properly equip them and take care of their welfare,” he said.
Meanwhile, APC has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to show leadership by example “instead of engaging in mere rhetoric.”
In a statement issued by Mohammed, the party said Jonathan’s exhortations at a Christmas service in Abuja on Thursday would have carried weight if the President had acted in such a way that his compatriots would not doubt his sincerity.
It wondered how the President could admonish others to avoid sowing the seeds of discord and hatred through their utterances “when that is exactly the stock in trade of his political associates, supporters and spokespersons.”