Widespread reactions have greeted the call for self-defence by Gen Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd) in the wake of brutal attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen across the country.
Danjuma, a former chief of army staff, said on Saturday at the maiden convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University, Jalingo that Nigerians are being killed at an alarming rate but the armed forces could not curb the bloodshed because they are also involved in it.
“The armed forces are not neutral,” he said.
“They collude with the armed bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians.”
The former defence minister said the time is now for Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves from the killings.
Mr. Danjuma said unchecked violence is shifting Nigeria towards Somalia, a country that has been in a state of war since 19991.
In a swift reaction, the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Army have dismissed the allegations by Danjuma, saying such calls are inflammatory and should be disregarded.
“This is highly uncalled for and is invitation to anarchy and should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians,” Tukur Gusau, a spokesperson for the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said in a statement Saturday night.
Similarly, Army described Danjuma’s claims as unfair and sad coming at a time of intense military efforts to address the crisis.
Mr. Danjuma is not the first leader to pointedly accuse the military of knowing about the attacks after Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State repeatedly said the federal government, especially the security forces, knew where the attackers were hiding and their movements, but deliberately looked the other way.
Also, two former rulers, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, in open letters earlier this year flayed the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for his poor handling of the polity and the wanton killings by alleged Fulani herdsmen.
Danjuma’s bombshell comes as another heavy blow to government, and Nigerians on social media have been weighing in on the subject…
God bless General TY Danjuma for telling the people of Taraba to defend themselves against killer herdsmen. You are a real man! Depending on President Buhari for protection is tantamount to suicide. Kudos sir https://t.co/TGhTZTmJK0
— Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) March 24, 2018
“Hilux with security officials usually accompany Fulani Herdsmen – Attacked villagers
“We were in a plane & boat” – Dapchi Girl
"The Armed Forces are not neutral, they collude, they collude, they collude with armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians"-TY Danjuma
— Babasola Kuti (@SKSolaKuti) March 24, 2018
Can anyone accuse TY Danjuma of not being a patriot? How many Nigerians have done for Nigeria what TY has done for this nation? Few. Very few. When he talks like this, we should know that it has gotten to a very bad state. I call on the government to heed his call.
— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce) March 24, 2018
Violence or the threat of it is the negotiation language that gets the Nigerian state to take you seriously. TY Danjuma knows this. The Nigerian state knows he can back what he has said. Watch them take things more serious. More people will learn this "language"
— Tunde Leye (@tundeleye) March 24, 2018
I've been in this hell hole called Nigeria for a while. But this video of TY Danjuma giving a stern warning about a coming all-out war is the most sobering thing yet. Trust me, he knows one or two things. pic.twitter.com/OPBpkKF608
— Deric Frost (@iDeric) March 24, 2018
TY Danjuma is not a man who's reckless with words. He's a retired Army General, Chief of Army staff and fmr Defence minister. Take his words with all seriousness.
— Elepo Robi Inc. (@femiTRIP) March 24, 2018
When IBB and Obasanjo wrote a letter to Buhari…there was one piece of the pack left…
The board is now complete…TY Danjuma is now on the other side…
Daura is sure for Buhari 2019…
These men don't croak for nothing..
— AnthonyEhilebo (@AnthonyEhilebo) March 24, 2018
You need not disturb yourself because some people are gloating over TY Danjuma's reckless statement.
It's not as if they love and respect TY Danjuma. This is a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"
They would have celebrated Shekau in this manner too. They will be fine
— Tunde Eneji (@iameneji) March 25, 2018
When you share our oil well to Individuals.
U create Cabals bigger than the government.
TY Danjuma is a nobody with out oil well.
In a country where millions can not eat 3square meal , some Individuals own more than 1 oil field
— muhammed jamiu (@emjayunit) March 24, 2018
Nigeria's former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence, TY Danjuma, has passed a vote of no confidence on the Nigerian Military. He accused them of collusion in many killings across the country.
There is a problem.
— Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive (@nnamdianekwe) March 24, 2018