Nigerian Army’s curious alarm
THE Nigerian Army recently raised the alarm over the scheduled swearing-in of the newly elected government of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term of office on May 29. In a release issued by its spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa, the army alleged that some Nigerians acting in concert with some foreign collaborators were working towards derailing the country’s democratic process by ensuring that the event did not hold. Musa said: “Some of these mischievous elements thought that we would not have a safe and successful general election but were proved wrong, hence they want to derail the scheduled handing over later this month and scuttle the democratic process in the country.”
According to him, the plan of the people under reference is to cause mischief by worsening the security situation in the country. This, he said, they intended to do by inducing Boko Haram terrorists with logistic support and funds to up the ante of terrorism. The army spokesman added: “Their body language and unguarded utterances imply tacit support for the criminals. For example, a credible source has shown that some individuals are hobnobbing with Boko Haram terrorists, while others are deliberately churning out falsehood against the security agencies with a view to setting the military against the people and the government. They are also demoralising troops and security agencies through false accusations and fake news.”
To be sure, these allegations are very weighty and should not be taken with a pinch of salt. Already, the accusation has pitted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party in government, the All Progressives Congress (APC), against each other. And because the accusation is so weighty, it needs much more attention than the army itself or the country in general is giving it. There are several questions in need of cogent answers from the military establishment. First, which persons have been arrested consequent upon this allegation? During military rule, many people were arraigned at military tribunals on allegations that carried lesser weight than this. Indeed, there were instances where persons accused of merely having knowledge of treasonable acts against the government got the death penalty or life jail. We expected the army authorities, if indeed they were not playing to the gallery, to go beyond this peremptory allegation and move against those they labelled unpatriotic elements trying to truncate democracy.
Because he who alleges must prove, the army authorities must not be allowed to stand on that omnibus leg of non-disclosure of security information on this matter. They must go beyond the seeming media charade and provide cogent and credible evidence of suspects’ involvement in the act. These persons should be arraigned in a court of law for trying to subvert the will of the Nigerian state. In this connection, the alibi that the Nigerian Army may not be able to go after the foreign collaborators will not avail it in this matter. If it cannot go after the foreign collaborators, what stops it from going after the local ones whom it said it had identified? The army should not leave this allegation hanging or let it disperse into the thin air like many allegations before now. Nigerians deserve to know the identities of the suspects.
Any attempt to do otherwise will put this alarm in the realm of conjecture. It will be seen as an attempt to collaborate with the political class to engage in worthless propaganda. It might also be legitimately seen as an attempt to go after critics of the administration under the guise of fighting treason. The Nigerian Army is owned by the Nigerian state and not the government in power. It thus must do the bidding of Nigeria at all times and not that of the holders of the reins of power. It must tell Nigerians what it has done with the evidence of treason.