Terrorism: Military seeks public cooperation, understanding

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ABUJA – The Military on Wednesday appealed for more understanding and cooperation from Nigerians to enable it win the war against terrorism. The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja during the `I -Nigeria Initiative’, an NGO-media interaction forum on security issues in Abuja.

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Olukolade, who is also the Chairman of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA), said that the armed forces will remain available to discharge its duties in relation to the nation’s security at all times. He said the appeal became necessary as the country’s troops continue in their counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in Northern part of the country. He said that the armed forces would discharge their duties creditably as their contribution to national development and that all that they required in return was a lot of understanding particularly at this time in its fight to combat terrorism. “We need understanding in the sense that the situation is peculiar, what we require from our colleagues in the media is the understanding that the army is committed to winning the war against terrorism. “And most of the assumptions will rather need to be dispelled as they have the tendency to discourage the effort that is on towards meeting our various aspirations. “Understanding is critical both for the country and the armed forces to place itself in position to serve a democratic Nigeria.” He said: “It is not as if there won’t be criticism but destructive criticism does not help our soldiers (morale) and our country.’’

[eap_ad_1] Olukolade said that some of the reports about weaknesses and indiscipline within the ranks-and-file of the armed forces had been exaggerated. He said that all the military needed at this time was the encouragement and understanding of our fellow countrymen and we can assure them that we mean well. Olukolade said that the time had come, when we should rather reduce accusations that are meant to demoralise and discourage. The defence spokesman further warned officers, soldiers and their supporters contemplating mutiny to be ready for the consequences. “Any soldier going into mutiny today knows that he is going into a suicide just like a coup, this military is not as weak as its has been painted,

“It is not as indisciplined as reported and we are not in violation of human rights as the international audience would want to believe.

“We are not running from battle, we are still willing to defend our country,”he assured. He assured that “the armed forces will continue to contribute its quota in fighting terrorism but we require understanding that the Armed Forces are committed to the mission at hand and have placed themselves at the disposal of the public.

“Our goal at the mandate is to deny the terrorists the resources they need to cause insecurity against the country.”

The Defence Spokesman also used the opportunity to clarify issues on the women, especially soldiers wives who were protesting against deployment of their husbands to the war zones in Borno State.

He said that the problem has been resolved, explaining that most of the women were acting out of ignorance and have promised not to interfere with military administrative and operational procedures.

The Coordinator and the Convener, I-Nigeria Initiative, Ms Ada Epiafi, said that the organisation was engaged in various advocacy programmes aimed at stimulating a re-engineered mindset among Nigerians. She said that this was in line with the mission and philosophy of the organisation “to reawaken the pride of being Nigerian’’.

“The basis of our mission is quite simple – no doubt these are challenging times in the life of our nation; many have died, or have been maimed in the course of fighting to keep our borders within and without safe and secure; “And we, the ordinary citizens are hopeful that our once very peaceful nation will return to peace in no distant future,” Epiafi said.

However, she said we all must also appreciate the distinct role we each play in ensuring that we address our challenges maturely. She said this was imperative so that at the end of it all, we would still feel good about ourselves as a people. (NAN)

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