The twists and turns that have come to characterize the ongoing democratization process took a turn for the worst last week with a major revelation by one of the last men still standing from amongst those who played pivotal roles in the demolition of the first democratic structure in what is known as the First Republic- Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma.
TY Danjuma is also one of the Northern irredentists who as a military Major was instrumental to the violent overthrow of the first military regime and the subsequent domination of the military by the Northern section of Nigeria till date.
His inglorious role as a coupist will be mentioned before we end this piece. The execution of this military coup was part of the Public Relations book done on him by Lindsay Barrett called ‘Danjuma: the making of a General” published in 1979.
Danjuma, who must have lived his first name to the full in compliance with the scriptural meaning of the name Theophilus as someone loved by God was also a minister of defence under the Presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
He has made a hugely significant accusations against the Nigerian Armed Forces of aiding attacks by bandits on communities across the country, warning that if such attacks continued, the consequences would make what happened in Somalia a child’s play.
General Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff, said the military could not be relied upon for the security of the citizenry, advising Nigerians to rise up to defend themselves or risk massacre.
He spoke at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University in Jalingo where he was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Science degree.
Taraba the home state of the wealthy crude oil mogul has recently witnessed attacks and counter-attacks between herders and famers, leading to hundreds of casualties.
While speaking against the violence in the state and other parts of the country, Danjuma said it was time for everyone to rise up and defend themselves.
“The armed forces are not neutral,” he said, adding, “They collude with the armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them.
“If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will die one by one,” he said.
He threatened that violence would result should the killings in his state and other communities in the country continue.
“The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State. It must stop in all the states of Nigeria, otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask everyone of you to be at alert and defend your country, defend your territory, defend your state. You have nowhere else to go,” he said.
General Danjuma said Taraba was a miniature Nigeria with diverse ethnic and cultural heritage which the armed bandits are trying to bring to ruins, warning that people must rise up to the challenge and resist them.
General Danjuma who is also a generous money man donated N100 million to the institution but that never made any news but his clarion call on Nigerians to defend themselves has taken the media stage by storm.
The Nigerian military true to the accusation of biasness made against them took the General to the cleaners even when the same military institution did nothing when a Moslem cleric circulated video on the social media where he was caught asking Moslems to pick up arms and not allow non- Moslems ever elected as the President of Nigeria and to support the return to office next year of their anointed Islamic candidate Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the serious allegations made by the former General in the Nigerian Army, both the Army and the minister of Defence accused TY Danjuma of stoking the embers of mutual recrimination and anarchy even as the Army stated that it is neutral in the numerous attacks being staged by armed Fulani herdsmen against farmers.
The Director Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Texas Chukwu, faulted the elder statesman’s comments.
He stated that the Army was doing its best to protect the nation from being overran by terrorists.
His words, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the unfortunate statement made by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University on Saturday 24 March 2018 in which he categorically asserted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was colluding with militias and other criminal elements and was unable to provide security for the citizens of Taraba State.
“He further called the people of Taraba State to take up arms and defend themselves. The Nigerian Army views this statement made by the former Chief of Army Staff as most unfortunate at this critical time that the military has embarked upon demilitarization of the North Central Region of the Country.
“While Nigerian Army would not want to join issues with the Elder Statesman, however, certain facts need to be clearly stated in the interest of the Taraba People and the Nigerian public:
“The Nigerian Army is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to aid the civil authority whenever called upon to do so. In this light, the authorization for the conduct of Ex AYEM AKPATUMA was authorized and troops deployed to curb menace of the herdsmen-farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North Central Region amongst others.
“It is on record that the successes so far achieved in Ex AYEM AKPATUMA have been recognized and accepted by Nigerians.
Gen. Chukwu said also that; “For avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Army advises the people of Taraba State and indeed all other Nigerians to continue in their day-to-day activities and be law abiding as anyone caught with arms and ammunition will be dealt with accordance with the laws of the land. Every law-abiding citizen is assured of equal protection and security of their lives and property irrespective of his/her person.”
These claims that the Army is ready to defend Nigerians is not true because thousands of innocent people have been killed by armed Fulani herdsmen but the Army did nothing. Villagers in Plateau state which is one of the flash points of these killings have also accused the military of conniving with Fulani herdsmen to invade their farms.
The Army’s claims of neutrality in the ongoing mass killings is indeed a double edged sword because the constitution does not permit the military to remain neutral when the territorial integrity of Nigeria is under grave threats.
If I may ask, why was the Nigeria Army deployed to crush the peaceful civilian members of the Indigenous People of Biafra when it is known universally that the peaceful clamour for self-determination is permitted under International law?
Why did the military jumped to declare IPOB a terror group even before the Attorney General of the federation had filed a motion before a competent court to seek for court’s declaration of IPOB as such?
Why did the Army and by extension the military failed to act to stop the genocide by armed Fulani herdsmen who went from village to village in Benue and Kogi states to slaughter villagers in the dead of the night? What kind of neutrality is this?
The Army is certainly not neutral because if it is, what a professional military would have done is not to rush to the media to counter the accusations of collusion with armed attackers as made by the influential former Army General, but would have conducted extensive investigations to unravel the veracity or otherwise of the allegations.
By rushing to cast aspersion on the person of General Danjuma and Taraba state, the Army has clearly demonstrated that it is not neutral.
Why did the Army not react when Miyetti Allah cattle owners association threatened fire and brimstone should president Muhammadu Buhari not re-elected next year? Why did the Army maintained conspiratorial silence when a Delta state legislator and some villagers in Southern Kaduna alleged that they saw military helicopters dropping weapons deep inside the forests for armed Fulani attackers who had launched attacks against these two places?
The take aways from General Danjuma’s statement is that Nigerians have become endangered species since the key institution like the military has come under such an authoritative accusations of collusion and conniving with armed mass killers from someone who should know the inner workings of the military.
It is therefore time for deep introspection by all Nigerians who must no longer remain silence in the face of this threat to their existence.
Nigerians home and abroad must begin to carry out series of civil rights activities and demonstrations to call the attention of world leaders to the threats posed by alleged state sponsored terrorism targeting Christians and minorities in Nigeria.
By way of conclusion, can I ask General T.Y Danjuma if he still relishes his inglorious role in the circumstances that led to the killing by military coupists of Nigeria’s first military ruler General Aguiyi Ironsi and his central role in ensuring the domination of the military by the same Hausa/Fulani Oligarchs he now accuses of colluding with armed Fulani killers?
Gbenga Adejumo wrote that the treatment given to Ironsi was given to his host, the Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi.
“The question remains, why did he, as the only one with the 3 other soldiers who climbed up to do the arrest also include Fajuyi?”
“And when they got downstairs after having disarmed everyone, all he needed to do was lock them up then call Gowon for instructions….but, did he?”