By Chioma GABRIEL, Taye OBATERU, Uduma Kalu and Kingsley Omonobi:
….We don’t take orders from govs, Generals reply Jang
THE Federal Government has ordered probe into allegations of Army complicity in the recent Jos killings.
Also, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, has said the police must never be caught napping again in any outbreak of violence in Plateau State.
Onovo warned divisional police officers that they would be held responsible for any such disturbance in their division.
But Defence Minister, Major General Godwin Abbe, (rtd) yesterday said the Federal Government ordered the probe following the accusation by Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State that the Nigerian Army was guilty of complicity in last Sunday’s attack of three Berom villages in Jos South LGA by Fulani herdsmen but which the Army High Command denied.
Meanwhile, three retired Army gen
erals have disagreed with Plateau State Governor, David Jonah Jang, that the military did not respond immediately they were contacted before the Jos massacre. For them, the proper line of communication was not followed. The trio that spoke were General Idada Ikponmwen, General IBM Haruna (rtd), and General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd).
Last Sunday, hundreds of people in Dogon Nahawa and other villages in Shen area of Plateau State were killed by rampaging Fulani herdsmen. There are still allegations that silent killings are still raging in the villages.
Jang, a retired Air Force officer, told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that he received reports at about 9pm that Sunday that some armed men were seen around those villages, and he reported the intelligence to the commander of the army in the state but the army turned a deaf ear.
“The commandant told me he was going to move some troops there,” Mr. Jang said. “And because it is near where I live, I even saw a tank pass through my house and I thought it was going towards that area. Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they have started burning the villages and people were being hacked to death and I started trying to locate the commanders, but I couldn’t get any of them on the telephone. The massacre could have avoided if they acted on my report.”
But in dismissing Jang’s account, Gen Ikponmwen (rtd) said the army was there to assist the police whose job it was to maintain internal security. When there is a lapse of security, the first blame should not be the army, he pointed out.
General Haruna said Jang’s opinion was personal, and that the military are not directly responsible for internal security in the state. “They were there to assist the Police whose duty it is to provide security in the state.
“The military is not an institution for internal security and should not be the first people to be blamed when there is a lapse in the internal security apparatus. If the governor said the military did not respond immediately, that is his opinion. But you cannot judge the response of the military because you don’t know their line of communication. You cannot blame the army for problems in internal security of a state or a nation because it is not their job in the first place. They only came to help.”
Nwachukwu, though non committal, wanted Jang to explain what he meant in his statement. “You are asking the wrong person. I am not in Jos. I know nothing about the crisis. This is something you can get response from Jang or the army headquarters or you can even go to Jos to get a first hand information. I am not on ground. Ask Jang what he meant by his statement on the army or ask the army headquarters. I am a retired general and therefore, cannot comment”, he said.
Ikponmwen said, “There cannot be military deployment without executive and legislative backing. You cannot deploy soldiers except in an emergency.
“I don’t share the view of Governor Jang. In the first place, it’s even unacceptable and unconstitutional to have the military on ground on a matter of routine. This is not the first time that the military intervened in the crisis in the area and their manner of intervention was always unconstitutional and contravenes section 217 and 305 of the Constitution which requires the approval of the executive and the National Assembly for the military to be there. And in the case of military intervention in the area, that was never followed and the National Assembly never approved.
“The military are not subject to state authorities. They don’t take orders from governors. But I am not trying to trivialise the killing of human beings in Jos. My argument is that constitutional means must be followed for the military to do the work meant for the Police. The military take orders only from the C-in-C. In as much as what happened in Jos was in bad taste, we must follow the constitution such that a state of emergency is declared so that whoever takes over must take charge and work with the military.
“Governors do not command troops and that is the case I am making. It is not constitutional.”
Probes the Army
Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike said there was a disconnect in the relationship between the military and the civil populace, hence the distrust and friction between the armed forces and military personnel on one hand and their counterparts in other sectors on the other hand.
The minister, who spoke at the presentation of the book ‘Winning Hearts and Minds: A Community Relations Approach for the Nigerian Military’, said government has taken note of the accusation by the governor of Plateau state that the mayhem that took place leading to so many killings would have been averted if the response of the army was faster, and the response of the army to the governor’s accusation are well documented and this will be looked into with a view to preventing any mistakes in future.
The General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigeria Army, Major_General Saleh Maina on Thursday defended himself against allegations of inaction and bias in the handling of the crises, pointing out however that he received text messages from his officers about impending attacks by Fulani herdsmen though at other places not Dogon Nahawa.
On the book itself, the minister noted that one major challenge of democratic consolidation is the challenge of ensuring a proper balance between the military and the civilian populace, adding that another critical challenge is the matter of redirecting the armed forces to ensure democratic subordination to civil democratic authority.
Dike said the Nigerian Armed forces is seeking to balance its need for professionalism with submission to civil authority and responsibility to the citizenry.
His words, “For the Nigerian military, which has the added challenges of professionalization as well as the need to gain citizen’s confidence and support in the aftermath of prolonged military rule, the importance of the community relations approach cannot be over_emphasized. This is because rigid mind sets and perceptions have made it difficult for many in the civil populace to appreciate the noble roles of the military, especially its steady transformation into a pro-people, citizen-friendly and responsive institution.
“The cost of the attendant civil_military disconnect, which are well covered in the book, are too well known but they cumulatively subtract from the support and cooperation of our fellow citizens leading to distrust and indifference. Hence, even the exploits and successes of our armed forces in peace sup
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