By: Ifeanyi Izeze
The rhetoric islocal but the message is global that there is an evolving
pattern of behaviour ofour top military commands (particularly Nigerian
Army) that is becomingcharacteristic and needs an urgent attention to
redress before it becomes thestatus quo.
Now it’s nolonger just a domestic argument that the leadership of the
Nigerian Army eitherbecause of perpetual gilts and other temptations needs
some lessons on “back tobasics,” as the international community has raised
alarm on the force radical programmeeither by omission or outright design
to militarise Nigeria’s democracy.
If the UK and EUgovernments that were invited by the federal government to
monitor ourelections criticised the direct involvement and misdemeanour of
army officersduring the election in Rivers state or any other part of the
country, is it theduty of the Chief of Army Staff/Army spokesperson or the
Minister of ExternalAffairs/Presidency to reply to those governments?
It may looktrivial but it’s not that the army under a democracy now talks
directly toforeign governments on issues that borders on diplomatic
relations betweenNigeria and those countries.
How do explainthat the Nigerian Army on its own went ahead to warn foreign
governmentsagainst interfering in what it calls “Nigeria’s domestic
issues”, describing astatement credited to United Kingdom, which accused
the military of undueinvolvement in the governorship election in Rivers
State as baseless, untrueand capable of misleading unsuspected members of
The army in a statemententitled: “Re: UK expresses concern over military
involvement in Riverspoll,” made available to the media, by its spokesman,
the Acting Director, ArmyPublic Relations, Col Sagir Musa, warned that any
allegation against the army byforeign governments must be confirmed from
“appropriate quarters” beforejumping to conclusions.
As said, “Foreigninterests are, therefore, enjoined to be mindful of
interfering in our nationalinternal affairs, especially when there is no
“Any allegationagainst the Nigerian Army must be confirmed from
appropriate quarters beforejumping to conclusions. The Nigerian Army, as a
responsible organisation,wishes to debunk such misrepresentation in order
to set the record straight.”
The question toask is: when some of these same foreign governments and
observer missions passtheir verdicts on the presidential election, did
they require confirmation from“appropriate quarters”? And by the way, what
does the army mean by appropriatequarters- army spokesperson, Chief of
Army/Defence Staff or the Presidency?
Whether the armywants to hear this or not is immaterial, the actions of
its personnel in breachof their conventional code of conduct in Rivers
State were very widespread,loud and visible as recorded in videos and
shared on several social andconventional media platforms. So which other
evidence is the army high commandlooking for before accepting that its
officers and men not only intimidated andharassed foreign observers but
were caught on camera hijacking ballot boxes bythemselves and also
provided cover for some thugs that did the same during theelection?
It is laughablethat the Army could allege that intelligence available to
it revealed politicalthugs wore military uniform to perpetrate crimes
during both the Feb 23 presidentialelection and March 9 elections in
Rivers state. This is a mere cover up ofoutright licentious behaviour
which is now becoming characteristic of itsofficers and men taking orders
from their command and control centres.
As alleged bythe army, “Credible intelligence available to the army
confirmed the kitting ofpolitical thugs with military uniform and arming
of same to impersonatesoldiers and perpetrate various crimes in the
furtherance of the activities oftheir political bosses.
“These thugswere wrongly viewed as real military personnel on various
social media channelsthereby bringing the reputation of the Nigerian Army
on several occasions todisrepute. The army understands that most civilians
caught in the callousonslaught of these murderous thugs might not be able
to distinguish betweengenuine soldiers from impersonators, especially when
they were armed withmilitary-type weapons.”
The militaryshould tell us whether it is no longer an offence for
civilians to wear fullarmy uniforms, carry guns and ride in army
number-plated trucks and pickups. Why did the genuine soldiers collaborate
with (and not confront) thefake soldiers in their state wide escapades?
Is the armysaying the thugs wore military uniform, carried well labelled
Nigerian armyAK-47 and K-2 rifles and were using well-numbered army trucks
(Tata and Hilux)also provided by politicians? Was the GOC of the 6th
Division that personallyled the team that occupied the INEC office and
harassed foreign and localobservers in Port Harcourt, also a fake soldier?
The soldiers in vehiclesnumbering about 20 that stormed the palace of
Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom,Ateke Tom, were they also fake soldiers?
Five guests of the monarch werereportedly arrested and taken to Bori Camp,
was that also done by fake armyofficers?
The team that went to Buguma toarrest Asari Dokubo in his family home,
were they fake soldiers also armed andkitted by politicians? Haba!
It is curious that many Nigeriansare not seeing what is unfolding. They
deceive themselves by believing that itonly happened in Rivers state and
some other states in the South –south,without acknowledging that it is a
well-crafted template that is going tospread across the country if not
checked now. Mark my word!
All the observermissions, foreign and local cannot be accusing the
military if they did notobserve involvement of soldiers in what the
military should not be involved in.We should not forget that The EU
observer mission also accused the NigerianArmy of being at the “centre of
voter fraud in the volatile Rivers stateelections,” Saying “observers,
including EU observers, were denied access tocollation centres in Rivers,
by military personnel. This lack of access forobservers compromises
transparency and trust in the process.”
The army topcommand is just insulting the intelligence of Nigerians. So we
now need to askfor the identity card of a soldier before we recognize
him/her as genuine? TheNigerian Army has become a huge joke under the
Buratai and Buhari leadershipand the earlier we insist they go for lessons
on “back to basics”, the betterfor this country and its democracy. God