Weighty claims – The Nation

  • Lance Corporal Martins’ allegations against service chiefs must be investigated and addressed squarely

The circumstances surrounding the arrest and detention of a soldier of the Nigerian Army on June 23 leave a sour taste in the mouth.

The soldier, a lance corporal, identified simply as Martins, was picked up in Sokoto and whisked to Abuja, for making a video lampooning the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and other service chiefs.

In the viral video, Martins expressed serious disappointment with Buratai and others for allegedly failing to stop the incessant killings of Nigerians by Boko Haram insurgents and bandits.

The soldier, who looked quite dauntless, directed his anger specifically at Buratai; the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, and the National Security Adviser, Major-Gen. Babagana Munguno, said the security chiefs had failed, for allegedly not showing commitment to ending the killings of Nigerians.

He revealed how the military had allegedly ordered the arrest of some soldiers for demanding better weapons and ammunition to combat the terrorists and bandits.

He said he was ready for court martial. He acknowledged that he might be arrested or probably killed for making the video, but he was ready to sacrifice himself for the country.

We believe arresting the soldier as done in the case is not the issue. Yes, it may speak to the military way of dealing with munity and other cases of misconduct, but this issue goes beyond that.

We are more concerned about the allegations raised by the soldier because of their wider implications for national security. Are they baseless or true?

If soldiers are not well motivated or are ill-equipped, there is no way they can give their best and only the best is good for the country.

Could the soldier’s claims be the reason we are not making much sustainable progress in the anti-terror war?

The country has spent a lot of money on arms and the welfare of the troops. We need results. But we seem to be dancing round in circles in the prosecution of the war against the terrorists.

We have been regaled with tales of our gallant forces decimating the insurgents and bandits only for them to resurge and visit more calamitous upsets on already weary communities.

It was a monumental national embarrassment seeing our soldiers jubilating in April when Chadian troops took the battle to the den of the terrorists and dealt them a terrible blow.

Wizened by a never-ending security upheaval, Nigerians have been clamouring for the sack of the service chiefs to pave way for the injection of fresh ideas in the anti-terror war.

The calls resonated across the country, most especially at the wake of the mindless killings and other depredations unleashed on most parts of the country by killer herdsmen and other terror groups. But the authorities do not appear to be swayed by the campaign.

It seems however that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, is now losing patience with the security chiefs.

He told them this much when he met with them at the Aso Villa, Abuja. He said their best was not good enough and that he would no longer accept their excuses, adding that he would henceforth expect them to live up to expectations.

Higher authorities should take more than a cursory interest in Lance Corporal Martins’ allegations and ensure that they are not swept under the carpet.

Nigerians deserve to know how the humongous resources being channelled into fighting the insurgents are being utilised.

Issues raised by Martins must be thoroughly investigated and dealt with squarely to put the needed impetus into the war against terrorists, which is fast becoming intractable.

The arrest and detention of Martins’ wife makes the matter worse. We are happy though that the Nigerian Army has been dragged to court over the matter.

We are supposed to be running a democratic government and the Nigerian Army is not beyond the due process that is the hallmark of democratic governance.

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