The Nigerian Army has joined the battle to restore sanity to the country following a hijack of the #EndSARS protests which has triggered looting and arson.
Troops will prevent the ongoing looting of public and private properties by miscreants and criminals across the country, the army high command decided on Monday.
They vowed to remain loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and to remain focused and not be deterred by any local and international threats from carrying out their duty of securing Nigerians.
But their action will be taken in consultation with the police – whose responsibility is for internal security – and other security agencies.
These are the highlights of the meeting of Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai with principal staff officers, General Officers Commanding and field Commanders at the Army headquarters on Monday.
Briefing the media on the outcome of the meeting, acting Director of Army Public Relations Col. Sagir Musa, said Gen. Buratai recalled that “the events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means having hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in many states”.
Buratai calls for swift response to looting
Gen. Buratai directed its men and officers to respond “ quickly and decisively” to any attempt by “elements or destabilising agents” to cause a breach of the law and order.
The army charged its personnel not to be scared of being reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out their constitutionally-assigned duty of defending the nation and its citizens as enshrined in the constitution.
The army assured that it would remain committed to democratic governance “as the only panacea for development and progress.”
Gen. Buratai said the military had lost 10 AK-47 rifles and personnel to the violence, adding that the Army was aware of efforts to drag it into the protests with a view to “discredit” it and the government.
He directed the military chiefs to let their troops on internal security or on guard duties outside the barracks to know that they must be at maximum alert at all times in order to be able to ”deal decisively with any attack on their duty locations.”
”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,” Burutai said.
He alerted them of potential security threats resulting from the burgling of security armouries by the hoodlums, adding that ”the recent activities of the “unscrupulous elements have shown their desire to acquire arms and ammunition at all cost from security personnel.”
“No less than 10 AK-47 rifles have been lost to these miscreants in the past two weeks across the country with attendant loss of lives of personnel,” the COAS warned.
The Army chief said: “Right from the onset of the #EndSARS protests, the NA has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis.
“The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.
“The NA being aware of the devilish plan was careful not to be dragged in and issued the initial warning through a press release on October 14, 2020 of our 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 NA of being responsible for the activities of the miscreants despite glaring evidence to the contrary. They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.”
He however noted that, “despite all these, the NA has continued to exercise restraint by applying all the Principles of Internal Security Operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagements….”
Buratai stressed that the Army would not “allow any force, elements or destabilising agents in or outside” to set the country on fire.
He said: “The Nigerian Army is determined to ensure democratic stability in Nigeria. The best system of governance is democracy and we must all ensure that Nigeria’s democracy remains 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.”
He admonished “there is 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 admonished.
The British High Commission, in a tweet, said: “We remain concerned by acts of looting and violence in Nigeria and urge security services use restraint as order is restored. Working with all stakeholders, judicial panel of inquiry must investigate all incidents, including #Lekki and ensure accountability for crimes. #EndPoliceBrutality”