Nigerian Army has vowed to punish erring personnel found to have compromised in their services to the country.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff stated this Monday at the inauguration of a panel of inquiry to probe allegations by some Nigerians that its personnel were colluding with herdsmen in the killing of natives in Taraba and Benue states.
The inauguration of the panel came barely three weeks after Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff, raised the alarm that an ethnic cleansing was being execution in the countrys especially Benue and Taraba states, by militias in conniving with men of the Nigerian Armed Forces, asking the people to rise and defend themselves.
Buratai speaking at the committee at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, said the Army under him was visibly disturbed at the allegations, especially coming from respected senior citizens of the country.
He charged the committee, headed by Major General Joseph Nimmyel, retd, to go all out to unravel all circumstances leading to the allegations, vowing that
Buratai explained: “The Nigerian Army has over the years conducted operations in line with its constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and providing aid to civil authority whenever it is called upon for such a task.
“However, the actions of the Nigerian Army in recent military operations, particularly in Taraba State, have been criticized by individuals and interest groups from different sectors of the society.
“Some of these concerns have come from the state government, Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, and very senior citizens from the state.
“Most recently, on the March 24, 2018, a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma, retd, speaking during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University, alleged that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) collude with armed bandits and other criminal elements.
“Statements of this nature could damage the reputation of the AFN and thus cannot be ignored if the NA is to continue to earn the trust and respect of the Nigerian populace.
“Thus it became imperative for the NA to set up this panel to confirm the veracity or otherwise of these allegations. As members, you were carefully selected based on your proven record of integrity and meticulousness.
“I have no doubt that you will do a great job. The terms of reference given to you is robust and have been articulated to enable you focus on the crux of the matter and expedite your actions towards unraveling the true situation of things.
“I have directed AHQ DAPP and the various formations to provide you with all the necessary logistics required for the completion of your assigned tasks.
“You are enjoined to visit all flash points and interact with various stakeholders and interest groups in Taraba State in order to come up with a comprehensive report.
“Let me hasten to add that the task at hand is a burning national issue, hence you are to treat this assignment with the seriousness it deserves.
“To this end, by the powers conferred on me as the Chief of Army Staff, I hereby officially inaugurate the constituted panel to investigate the allegations made against the NA in the course of operations in Taraba State.”
Speaking on behalf of the committee members, chairman of the committee, Major General Joseph Nimmyel, retd, assured the COAS of the readiness of the committee to deliver on their mandate and terms of reference.
The committee’s terms of reference include ascertaining and recording the timeline of clashes and security breaches in Taraba State from 2015; finding out and document all military responses to the identified clashes in the state within the stipulated time.
The mandate also includes to ascertain the role and actions of the commanders during the said clashes and security breaches in Taraba State, to ascertain and verify claims by TY Danjuma, retd, made on March 24, 2018.
Other members of the committee are Brig. Gen. Saka Abubakar, retd, Brig. Gen. S. Muhammed, Brig. Gen. RK Alexander, Brig. Gen. SN Eze, Brig. Gen. K. Olajide, Abdul Atadoga Ibrahim, (SAN), Mrs Comfort Dawut and Col. M.J. Gambo.
The committee was given up to April 19 to submit its report.