The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has refuted the allegation of connivance levelled against the military during its operations in Taraba State by a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).
Danjuma unleashed the salvo against the army in March, saying that the troops connived with herdsmen to kill hapless inhabitants of some communities in the state and elsewhere.
But in an address to journalists on the executive summary of the report, Buratai said the army and the Commanding Officer of 93 Battalion, Taraba State, performed their duties diligently, professionally and without bias, TheNation writes.
Gen. Buratai, who was represented at the briefing by the Chief of Civil Military Relations, Maj. Gen. Nuhu Amgbaso, said: “In view of these allegations, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, set up a 10-man Panel comprising senior Army officers (both serving and retired) and members from the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association and other Civil Society Organisations, to investigate the veracity of the allegations made against the Nigerian Army.
“The Panel was inaugurated on 9 April 2018, and it visited government officials, security agencies and other stakeholders covering the three senatorial zones of Taraba State, including His Excellency the Governor of Taraba State.
“The major findings of the Investigation Panel were as follows:
*. There was no collusion on the part of the Nigerian Army and units operating in Taraba State with any bandit(s) as stated by Lieutenant General TY Danjuma (Retired).
*. There were few instances where locals drag soldiers outside strict military duties to intervene in civil disputes.
*. There was good collaboration, synergy and cooperation between the Nigeria Army and other security agencies operating in Taraba State.
*.There is sustained media campaign to belittle the military operations in Taraba State.
* Most of the crises over the years in Taraba State were particularly in Takum, Wukari, Ussa, Donga and Sardauna local government areas.
*. There was absence of Nigerian Army deployments in some crises prone areas in the hinterland in Taraba State.
*. The Nigeria-Cameroon common borders in Taraba State were porous.
*. There was a massive proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Taraba State, some of which have been recovered from warring parties, criminals and unauthorised persons.
*. Troops deployed in Taraba State for Operation MESA were not paid RCA by the state government since February 2018.
*. There was inadequate communication equipment in the units which impedes Nigerian Army operations.
*. Some of the localities in the hinterland in Taraba State were not accessible by road.
*. The Commanding Officer 93 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel IB Gambari, commands his unit effectively and professionally and was only being vilified by some people/government of Taraba State for his refusal to act outside his professional duties or do the biddings of some government officials.
*. Lieutenant General TY Danjuma (Retired) could not be accessed by the Panel.
*. The Executive Governor of Taraba State made several attempts to ensure the removal of the Commanding Officer of 93 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel IB Gambari from command for his refusal to be dragged into the state politics.
*. Taraba State is highly heterogeneous and divided along ethno-religious lines.
*. The Chairman of Takum LGA, Hon Shiban Tikari, made several attempts to undermine the authority of the Commanding Officer 93 Battalion through some officers of the unit.
*. The troops have a good understanding of the Code of Conduct/Rule of Engagement.
*. There were security breaches/clashes in Taraba State till date which has necessitated the deployment of troops in the state.
*. The responses of Nigerian Army troops deployed to forestall these crises were commendable despite daunting challenges.
*. The 20 Battalion operating at Sardauna Local Government Area lacks combat motorcycles.
*. Some of the challenges facing the units operating in Taraba State include terrain, inadequate intelligence, inadequate communication and manpower problem.
*. There was verifiable evidence that 2 Nigerian Air Force helicopters with registration numbers NAF 574 and NAF 575 landed in Gembu on 15 March 2018 and 11 April 2018 respectively without the knowledge of the local authority.
*. The Nigerian Air Force helicopters and personnel that landed in Gembu area were for the proposed establishment of Nigerian Air Force Base at Gembu.
*. Dairies and other relevant documents pertaining to some major security breaches/clashes were maintained by units operating in the state, however the units did not document the after-action review.”
The army urged Nigerians not to heed Danjuma’s advice, saying it would do all within its power to ensure the security of lives and property.