Against the backdrop of the recent allegation by an Australian negotiator, Mr. Stephen Davis, naming the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, as one of the sponsors of Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, the federal government has been urged to institute a high-powered inquiry to address the allegations and lay it to rest.
This came as the United Progressive Party (UPP) also warned of the danger of relying on the confessions of Davis without proper verification.
The former army chief's kinsmen, under the auspices of Ndigbo Lagos, in a statement signed by its Director of Communications and Strategy, Mr. Chuma Igwe, yesterday said the allegation aired in an interview with the Australian negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis, on Arise Television, a THISDAY sister company, was a cheap blackmail targeted at defaming the former army boss.
According to lgwe, the allegation "was procured, choreographed and orchestrated," by Davis who he tagged as one of the "many white mercenaries prowling the African continent."
While condemning the story in its totality, Ndigbo Lagos maintained: "In the said interview, Davies did not adduce or suggest any single evidence to support his accusation," adding that "curiously when in the same breadth he said he has knowledge of the sponsor of the Abuja Nyanya bombing, he refused to mention names."
The body also noted with abhorrence that it was "tragic" that despite the fact that the content of the interview was capable of defaming Ihejirika, the interviewer could have demanded evidence from Davies.
"Given the lack of evidence, the nature of delivery of the allegation and the character of the accused General, Ndigbo Lagos believes Ihejirika's traducers are playing dirty politics.
"General Ihejirika will be remembered for being one of the most outstanding commanders Nigeria has had. He is not only an accomplished tactician but also a strategic leader of a fighting force. In his time, he did not only decimate the fighting capability of Boko Haram but also built enduring military institutions to permanently checkmate insurgency in Nigeria," Ndigbo Lagos averred.
It wondered that when Ihejirika retired from the military, some individuals in the North wanted him tried by the world court for being overzealous in crushing Boko Haram, but that ironically, eight months down the road, Ihejirika is now being accused of sponsoring the group he was alleged to have crushed.
The group also tagged as "insidious," the allegation by Nasir el-Rufai who was also named as "a character fast drifting gracelessly into the ethnic bigoted pit of hell," noting that his accusations against Ihejirika "reveals the tragic indulgence in denial, escapism by the same self-centred northern politicians who would rather create hell to rule over than serve in heaven."
Meanwhile, the UPP, while paying glowing tributes to officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces for repelling Boko Haram attack on Bama, in Borno State, said though it supports efforts to unravel the sponsors of Boko Haram sect, the authorities must be wary of a dummy being sold on them.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Ogbuehi Dike, UPP said the government should be careful about confessions by "devilish insurgents who might divert attention by accusing some people who gave them hell". UPP said it was inconceivable that Boko Haram could mention the name of Ihejirika who flushed the terrorists out of North-east towns to Sambisa Forest.
The party said it was on the account of the military exploits in battling the insurgents to near-surrender that some of the northern leaders accused President Goodluck Jonathan of committing genocide.
"While the army confronted the insurgents under Ihejirika's command as Chief of Army Staff, northern leaders led by former Governor Murtala Nyako wrote a petition against Ihejirika to International Criminal Court accusing the army of genocide.
"Without holding brief for Ihejirika, we wonder how he could have dealt ruthlessly with Boko Haram and drove them out of North-east and be their sponsor at the same time. Ihejirika has denied the allegation it is mischievous and a distraction from the war against terrorism.
"However, all those proven beyond doubt that they aided and abetted Boko Haram insurgents must be punished in accordance with the laws of the land, both Nigerians and foreigners.
"Security of Nigerians cannot be compromised for any reason whatsoever, as the security and welfare of the people are the primary purpose of government in tandem with section 14(2)b of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. UPP praised the gallant soldier and urge them to recover Gwoza and all areas occupied by the insurgents.
"It is obvious that Nigerian Army is the best and strongest in Africa and capable of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation. "We commend the federal government for boosting the morale of the armed forces with new military weaponry and war planes to crush the insurgents that have terrorised the people of North-east in particular and the nation in general.
"We further enjoin the government and military authorities to boost the morale of our indefatigable soldiers by addressing their welfare as they fight and protect the fatherland.
"The rescue of over 200 schoolgirls Boko Haram abducted at Chibok, Borno State should be uppermost in the minds of our gallant soldiers. Our hearts go out daily to the innocent schoolgirls held captive for over 140 days. It is outrageous and man's inhumanity to man. Their rescue will be the hallmark of the military operations in the North-east as the whole world is watching us.
"We urge the military authorities not to be distracted by provocative utterances by fellow compatriots and foreigners in the quest to crush Boko Haram. The blame game by Northern elite, APC and the Australian negotiator, Stephen Davis should not divert attention from the war against terrorism, it said.