The Nigerian Army has released reports of investigation into allegations against it by the Taraba State government and retired General TY Danjuma.
Danjuma had advised Nigerians to defend themselves before killer herdsmen wiped them out.
“You must rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the armed forces to protect you, you will all die.
“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria,” the former Defence Minister had warned.
On Friday, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, announced content of the report.
He said in the process of conducting the operations in Taraba State, concerns were raised by some government officials and very senior citizens of the State on the approach of the Nigerian Army.
“In view of these allegations, the Chief of Army Staff, ai set up a 10-man Panel comprising senior Army officers (both serving and retired) and members from the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association and other Civil Society Organizations, to investigate the veracity of the allegations made against the Nigerian Army.
“The Panel was inaugurated on 9 April 18 and it visited government officials, security agencies and other stakeholders covering the 3 senatorial zones of Taraba State, including His Excellency the Governor of Taraba State.
“The major findings of the Investigation Panel were as follows: There was no collusion on the part of the Nigerian Army and units operating in Taraba State with any bandit(s) as stated by Lieutenant General TY Danjuma (Retired).
“There were few instances where locals drag soldiers outside strict military duties to intervene in civil disputes.
“There was good collaborations, synergy and cooperation between the Nigeria Army and other security agencies operating in Taraba State.
“There is sustained media campaign to belittle the military operations in Taraba State.
“Most of the crises over the years in Taraba State were particularly in Takum, Wukari, Ussa, Donga and Sardauna Local Government Areas.
“There was absence of Nigerian Army deployments in some crises prone areas in the hinterland in Taraba State.
“The Nigeria-Cameroon common borders in Taraba State were porous.
“There was a massive proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Taraba State, some of which have been recovered from warring parties, criminal and unauthorised persons.
“Troops deployed in Taraba State for Operation MESA were not paid RCA by the state government since February 2018.
“There was inadequate communication equipment in the units which impedes Nigerian Army operations.
“Some of the localities in the hinterland in Taraba State were not accessed by road.
“The Commanding Officer 93 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel IB Gambari commands his unit effectively and professionally and was only being vilified by some people/government of Taraba State for his refusal to act outside his professional duties or do the biddings of some government officials.
“The Executive Governor of Taraba State made several attempts to ensure the removal of the Commanding Officer of 93 Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel IB Gambari from command for his refusal to be dragged into the state politics.
“Taraba State is highly heterogeneous and divided along ethno-religious lines.
“The Chairman of Takum LGA, Hon Shiban Tikari made several attempts to undermine the authority of the Commanding Officer 93 Bn through some officers of the unit.
“The troops have a good understanding of the Code of Conduct/Rule of Engagement.
“There were security breaches/clashes in Taraba State till date which has necessitated the deployment of troops in the state.
“The responses of Nigerian Army troops deployed to forestall these crises were commendable despite daunting challenges.
“The 20 Battalion operating at Sardauna Local Government Area lacks combat motorcycles.
“Some of the challenges facing the unit’s operating in Tarana State include terrain, inadequate intelligence, inadequate communication and manpower problem.
“There was verifiable evidence that 2 Nigerian Air Force helicopters with registration numbers NAF 574 and NAF 575 landed in Gembu on 15 March 2018 and 11 April 2018 respectively without the knowledge of the local authority.
“The Nigerian Air Force helicopters and personnel that landed in Gembu area were for the proposed establishment of Nigerian Air Force Base at Gembu.
“Dairies and other relevant documents pertaining to some major security breaches/clashes were maintained by units operating in the State, however the units did not document the after-action review.
“The Panel recommended that Army Headquarters should:
a. Device a means to be independent in its operation across Nigeria so as to insulate soldiers from the overbearing influence of politicians in government especially with particular reference to sponsorship of Nigerian Army operations in states.
b. Address the challenges of manpower, communication and provision of adequate and timely intelligence to support Nigerian Army operations in Taraba State.
c. Emphasize the need for multi-stakeholder engagement at all levels to douse tension in Taraba State.
d. Beef up the manpower of units in Taraba State.
e. Project its civil military cooperation relationship by creating awareness prior to the provision of people oriented programme and sustain it through vigorous pursuit and provisions to Tarabans.
f. Inform the Defence Headquarters on the need for the Services to follow due process in establishment of any new military location/base in any state.
g. Commend the Commanding Officer of 93 Battalion Lieutenant Colonel IB Gambari for his professionalism.
h. Impress on its Commanders the need for after-action review in order to improve on future Nigerian Army operations.
i. Educate the political class on the implication of polarizing the military to achieve their selfish gains.
j. Impress on Taraba State government to prosecute criminal elements arrested and handed over during the course of Nigerian Army operations.
“It is apparent that the clashes in Taraba State are a result of clan and communal crisis that predates this present Government. Most of the crises in Taraba State are politically motivated and some persons are deliberately escalating the situation in Taraba State for selfish gains. With respect to the statement by Lt Gen TY Danjuma (retired), it is clear that the allegations were not true, hence there is a need to urge for caution on the part of the elder stateman, in view of the security implications of such comments”.