The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai on Friday dismissed allegations by the former Chief of Army Lt. Gen, Theophilus Y. Danjuma that the troops in Taraba collided with bandits to escalate killings in the state.
Buratai who described the allegations as untrue added that the clashes in Taraba State were as result of clan and communal crisis that predates this present government.
Buratai, who was reacting to the finding of a panel set up to investigate the allegation, however revealed that he did not have access to the former Chief of Army Staff.
He said, “with respect to the statement by Lt. Gen. T.Y. 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.
The Chief of Civil Military Affairs, Major General Nuhu Dambazau, who represented the COAS stressed that most crises in Taraba State are politically-motivated and some persons are deliberately escalating the situation in Taraba State for selfish gains.
He said that the situation in Taraba State has steadily deteriorated largely due to distrust, intolerance, lack of inclusion and accommodation of different ethnic groups in the state.
It would be recalled that the COAS set up a 10-man panel comprising of senior Army officers (both serving and retired) and members from the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to investigate the veracity of the allegations made against the Nigerian Army.
He commended the Investigation Panel for doing a thorough job and said that the Army will work on the recommendations of the panel.
Some of the findings of the panel revealed that there were few instances where locals drag soldiers outside strict military duties to intervene in civil disputes.
It reads: “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 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.”
The panel also commended the Commanding Officer 93 Battalion, Lt. Colonel I.B. Gambar for effectively and professionally handling his unit.
The panel said that the officer was accused by some people and government of Taraba State for his refusal to act outside his professional duties or do the biddings of some government officials.
Some of the recommendations of the Panel include:
“That the Army needs to 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.
“Address the challenges of manpower, communication and provision of adequate and timely intelligence to support Nigerian Army operations in Taraba State.
“Emphasize the need for multi-stakeholders’ engagement at all levels to douse tension in Taraba State
“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.