The Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has warned that the army would not allow subversive and unscrupulous elements to destabilise the peace and stability of Nigeria.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, said that Buratai made the remarks during a meeting with Principal Staff Officers, Commanding Officers and field commanders on Monday in Abuja.
Musa briefed journalists on the outcome of the meeting at a news conference.
Buratai told the PSOs, GOCs and field commanders that there would be no room for disloyalty amongst all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
He directed that they must reiterate to all their subordinates that the army was determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria as the only panacea for development and progress.
According to him, the best system of governance was democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remained stable and steady.
“We will not allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside our country to set our beloved country on fire.
“We remain resolute in doing everything possible to ensure that subversive elements, detractors and other enemies of this great nation do not achieve their aims and objectives of destabilisation”.
Buratai stated that the events of the past few days in the country had shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means.
He said that those individuals, groups and other undesirable elements eventually hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches that resulted to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country.
These acts according to him, led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
The COAS added that the army had been aware from the onset of the #EndSARS protest about the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis.
He added that the plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government, so as to set the people against the army once it was called out to aid civil authorities.
According to him, the army being aware of the plan was careful not to be dragged in, and issued the initial warning through a press release on Oct. 14 of its resolve to secure and safeguard a united Nigeria.
“Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.
“These agitators are falsely accusing the army of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants in spite of glaring evidence to the contrary.
“They have continually threatened to report the army to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.
“Thankfully, however, a large percentage of Nigerians and the international community have started seeing through the smokescreen of falsehood, and deliberate misrepresentation of facts being orchestrated by enemies of Nigeria and have retracted their earlier false publications,” he said.
Buratai stressed that the army had continued to exercise restraint and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagement as contained in its published Standard Operating Procedures for Internal Security Operations.
He said the processes were derived from the International Human Rights Laws in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.
The COAS, however, encouraged officers and soldiers not be afraid of the ICC for carrying out their legitimate duties as stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other extant laws, rules and regulations of Nigeria.
He said they had every right under the constitution to carry out assigned and legitimate roles of maintaining law and order in aid of civil authorities and other security agencies.
He stressed that anyone who doubted their commitment to their constitutional responsibilities must be made to know that they remained committed, loyal and unwavering in ensuring the unity, stability and security of our dear country Nigeria.
He charged them to show the detractors and other elements of destabilisation that they are neither part of them nor in anyway supportive of their activities at all times.
He directed that any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively.
He charged them to fully cooperate with the police and other security agencies to ensure that they are in full compliance with imposed curfews and any other extant security instructions in force.
Buratai said the recent activities by unscrupulous elements had shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel.
He disclosed that no fewer than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past two weeks across the country with the attendant loss of lives of personnel.
The COAS, however, charged commanders to nip in the bud these emerging trends at all cost, and directed them to warn their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to be at maximum alert at all times, and to also deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.
According to him, there was no choice between a democratically united, strong and prosperous Nigeria and a nation disunited in a state of anarchy and retrogression.
“We must all strive for a united, strong, stable and progressive Nigeria,” he said.