The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has refuted the allegation that the Nigerian Army is profiting from the current war against insurgents in the North-East corner of the country, adding that such an allegation is unfair to the military. The COAS stated this in the course of a lecture he gave at the Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru, Zaria, Thursday.
In the course of the lecture, titled “Insurgency in Nigeria: Is the military solution the only option?”, organized by ABU’s Institute for Development Research and Training, the COAS, while responding to
questions asked by participants at the event regarding an alleged collusion between a profiteering Nigerian political class and the
military stated that it was not right to infer that the army profits from the insurgency war because soldiers lose their lives as well as their loved ones just like every other Nigerian, and that it had always been the wish of the army to bring the war to a close as soon as it could.
“It is not fair for anyone to flippantly accuse the military of profiting from the war on insurgency,” he said.
In the lecture meant as part of the effort towards strengthening civil-military relations in the country, and delivered on his behalf
by the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Abuja, Major-General Nuhu Angbazo, the COAS stated that whatever role the military had played thus far in the war against insurgency was
based on the constitution and the directives given by the constituted civilian authority in the country.
According to him, “Whatever actions that we take, wherever we are deployed is based on the constitutional roles that we have to play, which is among others to support civil
He notes that what Nigeria has been going though is not peculiar to the nation, but other countries across the world experience the same since terrorism is historically a global phenomenon. He emphasized
that the Nigerian military had never conceived of winning the war
through military means alone, but its approach had two aspects which
he called kinetic and non-kinetic approaches. This means the Nigerian
Army had engaged insurgents by military means as well as non-military means that included engagement of relevant segments of the larger population such as the media, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other opinion leaders within and outside the theatre of operation.
“It takes civil-military simultaneous effort to tackle insurgency,” the COAS explained, noting further that the civilian government also has a role to play in the area of formulating and implementing a holistic strategy of which the military is one part.
“Military approach is not effective without strong political interventions,” he said.
To Buratai, the government offers strategic response, which include political and social, economic and diplomatic responses while the military handles tactical military responses. He noted that both responses must complement each other in order to achieve success against insurgents.
In one of the army’s effort to improve
civil-military relations, which he admitted was vital to the achievement of military’s non-kinetic approach to combating
insurgency, Buratai said he had strengthened the media relations
department of the army and this had helped to improve the narrative regarding the activities of the army in the North-East. He commended the media for the role it has played thus far in disseminating accurate information through special programmes and better news reportage of the war effort.
The COAS also said he has established a human rights desk where complaints are lodged and cases are referred to constituted courts and authorities where, sometimes unknown to the public, many cases have
been tried involving both junior and senior military officers with regard to their activities in the war-torn area. He further noted that contrary to opinion in some quarters, the military does all it could to ensure that human rights abuses are minimized and culprits are prosecuted, all in an effort to have the confidence of the civil populace in the war against insurgency.
In his welcome address at the event, the Director of IDR&T, Prof. Hudu Abubakar, wondered to what extent the military could be blamed for human rights abuses if the Nigerian state called soldiers to action
against internally-related security threats that ordinarily the police should handle.