In a rare outburst, former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Yakubu Danjuma, on Saturday raised alarm that there was an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the country and asked Nigerians to rise up to resist it.
He spoke in Jalingo at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University and said Nigerians must be alert to defend themselves and their country, pointedly accusing the military of complicity in the killing of farmers by herdsmen.
But in a swift response, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said Danjuma’s allegation would be investigated and any of its personnel found culpable would be brought before the law.
The Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, in an interview with THISDAY, on Saturday, said the DHQ was taking the former defence minister’s comment seriously in view of his personality.
Agim said: “We take that statement seriously because of the personality of the person of Gen TY Danjuma.
“The military will investigate, and any military personnel that is found to be colluding with the herdsmen would be punished accordingly.”
Danjuma’s admonition came just as some elder statesmen warned on Saturday that unrestrained killings by herdsmen could undermine the unity of the country.
Danjuma, who was visibly enraged by the incidences of killings across the country accused the Nigerian Armed Forces of being partisan and colluding with armed bandits to perpetrated carnages across the length and breadth of the country.
He said: “When I arrived this arena, I saw rich cultural display, and I was amazed at the rich cultural heritage of our people. Taraba is a mini Nigeria with diverse ethnic groups living together relatively peacefully. But the peace in this state is under assault.
“There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and of course, in some riverine and rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up.
“Our Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements. They cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
The philanthropist, who donated N100m to the university’s endowment fund enjoined Nigerians to rise up to defend themselves, saying Somalia would be a child’s play if they failed to act.
“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria, otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go…God bless our country,” he said.