As the Nigerian Army investigates allegations by former chief of army staff, General Theophilus Danjuma, that soldiers are colluding with herdsmen to cause havoc across the country, mastermind of the April 21, 1990, failed coup, Col Tony Nyiam (retd), has said the former general’s outburst was a direct indictment of President Muhammadu Buhari rather than the country’s Armed Forces.
Nyiam said Danjuma’s allegations did not indict the corporate establishment of the armed forces.
He disclosed this to Daily Sun in Abuja, yesterday, during the public presentation of ‘M.T. Mbu: Dignity in Service,’ an autobiography of Dr. Matthew Mbu, a former minister of Foreign Affairs, published posthumously by the Executive Chairman of Safari Books Limited, Chief Joop Berkhout.
Said Nyiam: “What he was rather saying was that he was indicting the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Why do I say so? Because, as it appeared, the armed forces is being used to promote and defend the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kinsfolks’ interest.”
Last month, Danjuma, also a former minister of Defence during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, had, at the maiden convocation/10th anniversary of Taraba State University, Jalingo, said “there is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and, of course, some rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up. Our armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The armed forces guide their movements; they cover them. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
Regardless, Nyiam said the problem is that Nigerians have not realised that president Buhari told a group of Northern bishops, who visited him last week, that he is not a bigot that they thought he (Buhari) was.
Nyiam continues: “The evidence seems contrary. It is not the talk, but the walk is different. What is my evidence? The whole 80 percent of the appointees to do with national security, that is, in terms of the Service Chiefs and Directors-General of security agencies; 80 percent are his tribe men. That is bigotry in action. It is not enough to say you are not a bigot. This is the issue.”
Nyiam further said what Danjuma said was not new and recalled a revelation by the Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura, during a Senate summit on security that “some of the military arms that they found with the herdsmen, the sophisticated ones, are from the military and police armouries.”
Reacting to Nyiam’s claims, Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Senator Joseph Waku, said what Danjuma said in Taraba was not new.
Waku added that Nyiam is right in saying that Danjuma’s statement is an indictment on Buhari.
“Buhari is the commander-in-chief. So, if General Danjuma said the armed forces are colluding and Nigerians should defend themselves, it goes with what I am saying that, as a commander-in-chief, you should protect your nation. It is also true that some of these things are happening and you wouldn’t know. That is why the army said they are going to set up a probe.”
Also, former chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the 2014 National Conference, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, backed Nyiam.
Okunrounmu also corroborated Nyiam’s belief of the president being a bigot.
“Of course, it is an indictment on the president because the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He commands the armed forces. Everything they do is under his command.
“So, any misbehaviour or ethnic cleansing or rational killing by the armed forces must be laid at the foot of the president.”
On bigotry, Okurounmu said: “I have always said so, I have always believed that. He is a bigot, there is no doubt about that because what he says completely contradicts what he does. You cannot hold him for his words and his words are not to be believed at all.”