Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Allegations of Extra-Judicial Killings Diversionary - Ihejirika

The chief of army staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, said yesterday that most of the allegations against security agencies were meant to distract them from tackling the challenges of terrorism.

"If you follow the trend of these malicious accusations, it will be discovered that it is meant to retard the progress of the security agencies from the serious task of ridding the nation of terrorism," he said during a courtesy visit to the inspector-general of police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, at the Police Headquarters.

The allegations of unjust killings of innocent citizens, Ihejirika said, were coming when "these agencies are making tremendous progress in resolving the terrorism challenges in the country".

He said that the primary job of the army was to protect innocent citizens and that every officer and soldier was taught that, right from the recruitment stage.

He appealed to the media and well-meaning Nigerians to report cases of maltreatment by any member of the security agencies.

He stated: "Any member of the public who comes across a situation where a citizen is being manhandled by the military, police or any other security agency should make a report and there will be immediate intervention.

"This is why the army has established the Department of Civil-Military Affairs which conducts seminars to improve our mutual relationship.

"I urge all citizens to get in touch with us and tell us when we are not doing things as they wish. "

'How we foiled terrorist attacks recently'

Gen. Ihejirika also disclosed that the Joint Task Force (JTF) last week foiled planned terrorist attacks on the country. He said the development was as a result of inter-agency collaboration -- among the military, police, State Security Service and other sister security agencies in the country.

"Within the last one week, we have discovered nothing less than 30 different sources of assorted weapons, we have recovered money hidden in the engine compartment of vehicles by these terrorists. We have recovered both vehicles prepared for bombing and attacks," said the army chief.

"So, I want to tell you that the military and police are very professional. Gone are the days when we took actions without calculating their consequences. Certain terrorists have also been allowed to escape just because the collateral damage was considered unacceptable."

Ihejirika also reacted to the allegation by Amnesty International of killing innocent citizens, pointing out that the military as well as the police do not take kindly to indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens.

"No well-meaning citizen of any nation should tolerate any harm on innocent citizens. The military, the army in particular -- our primary job is to protect innocent citizens. And this is what is inculcated in the mind of every officer and man, right from the recruiting stage.

He described as malicious and an attempt to demoralise the security agencies the frequent reports and allegations that the military do not consider the civilian population during their operation, stating that the motive was to distract the operatives from doing their jobs.

"When we do operations and arrest a lot of these hoodlums, recover their weapons, the following week someone will come into the air with some allegation to dampen the morale of officers and to discourage action," he said.

IGP Abubakar, in his remark, expressed gratitude to the military for the new spirit of collaboration and pledged that his administration would do everything possible to advance the cause.

Abubakar said that the army and the police had always cooperated.

"This cooperation covers training, sharing of intelligence and various crisis operations in the country."

He called on all officers of the police force to join the partnership and take it to the highest level.

"We shall open more avenues for training and consultations so that we can cement this existing relationship," he said.

Abubakar said that all issues discussed would be taken seriously and pursued to ensure that the required safety and security for this country was achieved.

Military adopts 3-strategy approach to tackle terrorism

The commandant of Defence Intelligence School (DIS), Commodore Toyin Olawunmi, said on Thursday in Abuja that security agencies had adopted a three-strategy approach to fight terrorism in the country to achieve positive results.

Olawunmi listed the three-strategy approach as "tactical, operational and strategic".

The commandant stated this at the passing-out parade ceremony of 357 personnel of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) trained by the school.

The school is a training arm of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

According to him, the chief of Intelligence, Brig.-Gen Sani Audu, has mandated the school to key into the efforts to tackle terrorism.

"The efforts to fight terrorism in Nigeria have been divided into three phases: the tactical aspect, the operational aspect and the strategic aspect.

"This is one of the mandates given to us by the chief of defence intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Sani Audu, to tap into the efforts to fight terrorism in Nigeria.

"The long term is what we have been saddled with, that is, the strategic level, to try to mitigate the challenge of terrorism in Nigeria," he said.

Olawunmi said the mandate informed the collaboration between the school and ministries, departments and agencies as well as anti-graft bodies.

He said the training of personnel of the ICPC who were saddled with tackling corruption was imperative as terrorists depended on finance to carry out their activities.

"This is the area we try to key in and train the ICPC personnel holistically to be able to join in the effort to fight against terrorism in Nigeria," he said.

The chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, told newsmen shortly after the exercise that the training was necessary to inculcate discipline into the personnel to enable them face the challenges of their job.

Nta, who was represented by an official of the commission, Mr Bako Abdullahi, also said that it would enable them to investigate corrupt cases in the best manner.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the six-week training was organised by the DIS for ICPC staff at the training school of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Abuja.

Mr. Suleiman Bello, the provost of the NSCDC training school, said the trainees had received the best military training with the facilities provided by the school.

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