Being a Public Statement Issued by Initiative For Truth (IFT) on the Absurdity of the Purported Rejection of the Report of the Special Military Panel Constituted by the Nigerian Army to Probe Gen. TY. Danjuma’s Allegations of the Army’s Collusion with Herdsmen To Massacre People in Taraba State issued on May 27, 2018.
1. The attention of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Initiative For Truth (IFT) was attracted to Saturday Trust’s advertorial publication dated May 26, 2018, titled “ Taraba State Government Rejects Report of the Military Panel on the Allegations of Collusion by the Nigerian Army in Herdsmen Massacres.”.
2. The publication was a Press statement issued by the Taraba State Government purportedly rejecting the report of the Special Military Investigative Panel, which probed Retired Gen. TY. Danjuma’s disturbing allegations’ of the Army’s collusion with invading herdsmen to massacre the natives of the state during the “Exercise Ayem Akpatema,” conducted by the Army.
3. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) expeditiously acted on the allegations, by setting up a 10-member Special Military Probe Panel, chaired by Gen. John Nimyel to unravel the truth or falsity of the allegations against the Nigerian Army. May we quickly remind that the decision of the COAS was in good faith and the best option in these circumstances. It has always been his traditional response to such situations and the case of Taraba state is therefore, not an afterthought.
4. However, none of the feuding parties/stakeholders in the internecine conflict in Taraba state raised objections to the composition, prior to the execution of the terms of reference of the Military Probe Panel on this special assignment. The Panel adequately and fairly represented all interests.
5. Information at the disposal of IFT indicate that members of the Military Probe panel were received in audience and collated written/ verbal submissions from virtually all stakeholders, except Gen. TY Danjuma who tactically avoided the panel for reasons we cannot immediately establish.
6. But those who granted audience and made submissions to the Military Probe Panel included, the Taraba State Governor, Arch. Dickson Darius Ishaku; the Aku Uka Wukari, Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa Ibi, the representatives of the Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) as well as many other critical stakeholders in the conflict. We believe they narrated their various perceptions of the crisis, which the panel blended to submit a holistic verdict to the Nigerian Army Authorities.
7. The Special Military Panel’s report passed a verdict of “not guilty,” on the Army and absolved it of any complicity or culpability, the allegations by Gen. Danjuma bandied in public domain. Aside, the report eloquently testified to the Army’s strict professional adherence and observance of Rules of Engagement (ROE). It also revealed grotesque and concealed lapses, which could be improved upon by government to enhance the performance of soldiers in the field.
8. To IFT’s greatest bewilderment, the Taraba State Government, by implication, Gov. Dickson Darius Ishaku through a press statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Bala Dan Abu, unreservedly rejected and condemned the panel’s report as discreditable and biased in favour of the Nigerian Army.
9. In the published press statement, we searched for any cogent reason(s) to necessitate the rejection of the Panel’s report by Gov. Ishaku and his government, but found nothing concrete to tender as proof of their hostility to the submitted and publicized report. Candidly, the fresh position of the Taraba State Government is infantile and too pedestrian, to say the least.
10. It is bemusing that Taraba State Government pinned its rejection of the Military Panel’s reports on the flimsy tripod of (1) That himself as Governor, Taraba people and Nigerians witnessed the allegation of collusion of the Army with herdsmen to massacre the people. What a casual and simplistic manner of running conclusions on a serious matter.
11. It has kept the IFT wondering whether Mr. Governor’s testimony and others at the panel was not enough and he thinks every Nigerian or Taraban citizen would have testified before according the report is given it’s deserved respect. This mindset is certainly, a comical yardstick of measuring the complicity of anyone in an alleged criminal act.
12. And (2): Gov. Ishaku so precariously banked on vague public insinuations, which he claimed, alary was not doing enough to stop the killings. He proceeded to buttress his position with the assertion, “It is widely acknowledged within and outside the shores of this country,” and referenced Amnesty International’s (AI), report as an example.
13. But the Army’s operation in Taraba state, is just one out of the 32 states, soldiers have been deployed in aid of civil security to quench insurrections under Gen. Buratai. None of the state Governors has queried the unprofessional conduct of soldiers on these special assignments. Could they have chosen to misbehave only in the instance of Taraba state?
14. Furthermore and (3): Gov. Ishaku contemptuously questioned the legitimacy of the Special Military Panel and concluded by the infamous insistence that the Army is sitting in judgment over its own case. The IFT is prodded to ask Mr. Governor at what point he realized the illegitimacy of the Military panel to bid a retreat and sing discordant tunes? After he testified before it and indeed, permitted every other person on his side of the dispute to verbally testify or submit written memoranda? This is shameful! But the Nigerian Army acted within the confines of the Military Act.
15. This is certainly, a very poor hatchet job anchored by the Taraba Governor to malign and discredit the Nigerian Army. It defeats logic and sound reasoning. Any sane mind would easily decode and believe that after participating in a process from the start to the end, a pre-determined result was expected, which failed to come to enliven the excitement of Gov. Ishaku.
16. Therefore, the antagonists have perfected a sustained plot to devalue and undermine the outcome as demonstrated by Gov. Ishaku and cronies. Again, was Ishaku expecting a pre-determined report from the Panel? It is sadly lending credence to insinuations’ in public domain that the Governor’s fresh anger is spurred by his fruitless attempts to influence the outcome of the Panel’s report.
17. And this appears to stick, hence his early suspicious reference to Amnesty International (AI) as the major plank ernational (AI) as the major plank of his rejection of the report and the call for an independent probe. But last year, AI made similar bogus allegations and claims against the Nigerian Army on rights abuses and violations in the Northeast, where the Army battling insurgency. And Gen. Buratai in his usual manner constituted a Special military Board of Inquiry to investigate the allegations. AI hedged appearance at this platform offered it to justify their claims.
18. AI also called for independent probe, a step being craftily replicated by Gov. Ishaku. But NHRC also investigated AI’s claims and found them fictitious and fabricated against the Army. AI again, refused to appear before a Presidential Probe Panel set up by President Muhammedu Buhari to probe the same allegations for them to establish the authenticity of the overtly spurious allegations. At this level, one wonders what independent probe they wished initiated. It is now apparent to IFT that Gov. Ishaku is also toeing the same path.
19. It thus appears to IFT that the Taraba State Governor, Mr. Ishaku was unprepared for leadership of the state, but was so burdened. So, he has freely localized state affairs in consonance with his personal idiosyncrasies’ and native wisdom. It’s strange to participate in an exercise, and turn around to question its legality. It seems outside the ethnic cleansing agenda, the Governor has no any other agenda for his state. It is incredible to realize Gov. Ishaku’s naivety has stretched to extents of acquiescing to crude, barbaric and unofficial instruments in stamping a faulty allegation against the Army.
20. We suspect Gov, Ishaku, Gen. Danjuma and their hordes of backers are running amok with confused positions on the matter because since they masterminded the mindless massacre of over 800 Fulani indigenes on the Mambilla Plateau, their souls have known no peace. It is a rare display of state fury against a section of its own citizens, state armed militia massacred or slaughtered hundreds of people, including women and children.
21. This dastardly and callous act is enough to cause them eternal torments and sleepless nights. It is expectedly the reason, Gov. Ishaku and cohorts would continue to dance naked in the market square. Insider sources claim, Gov. Ishaku having realized his guilt, is tinkering with the idea of compensating victims of the Mambilla crisis to at least purge himself of this haunting guilt.
22. Indubitably, at every point, they desperately scout for an opportunity to blur the possibility of nemesis visiting its wrath on them. It is the same state armed militia the Governor used in executing the Mambilla killings that were deployed for the escalation of the same crisis in the wider parts of Taraba state.
23. So, it is extremely irrational to scout for scapegoats in the Nigerian Army to blame for his own shortcomings or failings on security of his state. His unending grouse with the Nigerian Army is their adamant refusal to be influenced by the state government to aid and exacerbate the killings in favor of the State Government with an undisguised ethnic cleansing agenda, which is palpable now. But the Army effectively checkmated his armed militia against continuing with the heinous crimes against all the innocent tribes of the state.
24. By our privileged position, as conscience of society, may it be sounded into the ears of Ishaku and surrogates that the attempt to take shield under the fictitious allegations by Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma alleging military collusion with locals is self- serving and indicting. It has further exposed the government headed by him as a narrow-minded institution, which has pleasurably abdicated its security responsibilities to the state, in pursuit of the ethnic supremacy agenda.
25. Let us caution Gov. Ishaku once again. He is free to display his street wisdom in governing Taraba state. But let him restrict himself to manipulating his local folks in the state. To contemplate dragging the Nigerian Army into his mess by maligning this revered institution for personal motives is really unwise, senseless and inconsequential.
Mr. Hosea Aliyu,
Initiative For Truth (ITF)
Mr. Lucky Audu,
Director, (Research and Documentation),
Initiative For Truth (ITF).