The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has denied reports of troops’ bias on the Plateau and cautioned religious leaders against making malicious statements against the military.
The acting director of Defence Information Brig-Gen Tukur Gusau stated this while reacting to a viral video of the chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Mangu Chapter, Rev. Timothy Daluk, accusing the military of supervising the killings in Plateau State.
The Chairman could be heard in the video saying, ”what is happening in Mangu at this particular point in time is that the military is the one sending our people away to allow the militia to burn their houses.
”They have sent every christian away from the new market, thereby leaving the moslem to burn their houses. They impose a curfew but the curfew is restricted to only people within the christian domain while people in the oslem doain are free to do whatever they want to do.
”And not only that, the military has killed three of our young men in which I know, one in my own church; they killed one yesterday and I reported to the security personnel and he said it was a fake soldier that did it. At first, he said I was lying until iIproved to him beyond reasonable doubt then he accepted. This thing is go on and on. Now that I am speaking, all of them(military) have switched off their phones.
”People’s houses are now ablaze because the soldiers protected and allowed them to burn the houses. They are not doing anything about it. So, we in Mangu local government don’t want the military. We don’t need them because they have been bought to do what they are doing”.
However, the acting director of Defence Information said the video aims to malign military personnel deployed to address the security challenges in the Mangu general area by what he termed “baseless and untrue accusations, claiming that the military is biased and supports a particular group against others.”
He said; “We categorically state that these accusations hold no truth, are malicious and lack any reasonable foundation.
“It is deeply disturbing that a religious leader, who is expected to demonstrate high levels of moral judgement and truthfulness, has resorted to spreading falsehoods about the military and its personnel.
“We want to reiterate that the military remains neutral, focused, professional and committed to its constitutional role of protecting the lives and property of law-abiding citizens. We will deal with anybody found disobeying the law, without bias or prejudice”.
He recalled that there was a breach of security in the Mangu municipal area on 23 January, 2024, resulting in the government of Plateau State declaring a 24-hour curfew, stating that troops of Operation Safe Haven were reinforced to enforce the curfew and bring the situation under control, thereby preventing its spread to other areas.
He said the troops carried out their duties professionally and in accordance with the rules of engagement, adding that they successfully recovered weapons and arrested criminals involved in looting and burning of properties.
Similarly, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has put the blame for the renewed killings in Mangu local government of Plateau State on inhabitants of the area, describing it as self-inflicted.
The director of Defence media operations, Major General Edward Buba, who disclosed this during the biweekly update on military operations,said troops were doing their utmost to restore peace in the affected areas and across the country.
It said the latest round of bloodshed was triggered by cattle rustling and the killing of a bicycle-riding Wangagu man by militiamen in defiance of efforts to keep peace in the area.
“The Mangu crisis of 23 January, 2024, was triggered by cattle rustling and killing of a Wangagu man by herders’ militia.
” The Wangagu man riding on motorcycle ran into the militiamen who killed him, triggering a reprisal from the locals. We witnessed burning of places of worship, giving a religious slant to the Mangu crisis”, he disclosed.
He said the troops of Operation Safe Haven on January 17, 2024, responded to information on large numbers of armed Fulani militiamen mobilising to attack a community in Bokkos local government area (LGA) of Plateau State.
He further said the troops made contact with the violent extremists/Fulani militias and following a fire fight, troops neutralised 10 insurgents and recovered 10 AK47 rifles, 210 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, five mobile phones and 29 rounds of PKT ammunition.
He added that the troops also arrested suspected violent extremists/insurgents and Fulani militia gang leaders in Mangu and Wase LGAs of Plateau State.
Furthermore, he informed that troops again on 18th January, 2024, acting on credible intelligence conducted sting operations and arrested five suspected violent extremists/terrorists in Mangu LGA of Plateau State, recovering 168 assorted weapons and 2,757 assorted ammunition in the week under review.
He disclosed that the military high command had deployed special forces to some of the hotspots on the Plateau in order to conduct targeted operations, adding that several battlefield enablers had been deployed to enhance intelligence and strike capability on the terrorists in the state.
He therefore encouraged the warring factions to sheathe their swords.
According to him, the armed forces would destroy the cancer of terrorism that is ravaging the country and creating situations such as is ongoing in the Plateau State.
“The situation of insecurity that we are confronted with is self-inflicted by our own citizens. Nevertheless, it is our duty to protect the citizens and create a safe environment for them to have a prosperous future,” he said.
He further said the military is aware that insurgency has contributed to make life worse for many citizens in the North East, North West, North Central and South East geopolitical zones.
Recently in the North Central, he said, tension broke out in Mangu on January 24 morning, escalated and resulted in the breakdown of law and order in Mangu town and adjoining communities.
He noted that the crisis which started from Gangaran Kwata escalated to other parts of Mangu LGA despite concerted efforts by troops deployed to the general area to restore normalcy.
“We are redoubling our efforts to ensure the citizens live in a peaceful environment and have a prosperous life. This is achievable and we are focused on achieving it,” he stated.
While calling for citizens’ support, he said terrorists and their cohorts exist for the sake of war and must be eliminated for the sake of peace.
“All hands must be on deck, in our villages, communities and environments to ensure that the security forces are supported with necessary information to win this war. We also urge trusted voices by the people to use their voices for good and not for evil. There is a need to stop the bleeding and commence the healing,” he said.