Says eminent Nigerians should safeguard national security
The Presidency yesterday expressed shock at the recent statement made by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma, in which he asked Nigerians to defend themselves against attacks by bandits.
The former defence minister, speaking at the maiden convocation and 10-year anniversary celebration of the Taraba State University (TSU), Jalingo had based his call for self defence on what he branded collusion of the soldiers with bandits who have been making life miserable for Nigerians in parts of the country.
He said the military men were no longer neutral and charged victims of such attacks to resist them.
“If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one,” Danjuma had told the people of Taraba State of which he is one.
He added: “This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State. It must stop in all the states of Nigeria. Otherwise Somalia would be a child’s play.”
However, Presidential Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, responding via a statement in Abuja said prominent Nigerians with national influence should use their influence wisely and not continue to engage in public declarations that are likely to inflame emotional passions and threaten National Security.
The Presidency, he said, “is very worried that criminal gangs will feel justified in defying legal governing and democratic institutions, and authority of legitimately elected democratic government if unrestrained pronouncements are made.”
He said silence can be dignified although it can be misinterpreted and exploited sometimes.
He said: “It is both shocking and scary to hear the recent comments by a senior citizen calling for Nigerians to defend themselves.
“The Presidency commends the Nigerian military’s efforts to maintain peace and stability, despite being pulled in various directions by elements determined to destabilize the country and government for their selfish reasons.
“What country would survive if its citizens rise against the country’s organized, trained and equipped military?
“We advise former leaders to take advantage of the various fora where people with a history of national security can offer advice to the government without resorting to the exploitation of emotional sentiments.
‘The civil war motto: “TO KEEP NIGERIA ONE IS A TASK THAT MUST BE DONE” rings very timely at this time in our nation’s history. We must be careful to avoid the mess that destroyed other African countries like Somalia.”