Army says no regret on attacks on Shi’ites

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…As Mohammed says Presidency Has No Hand In EFCC Affairs 

The Nigerian Army said on Wednesday in Kaduna that it did not regret the clashes soldiers had with members of the Shi’ite Islamic sect during which scores of the Muslim group were killed.

The army argued that the Shi’ite members attempted to kill the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, noting that an assassination attempt on the COAS, was akin to attacking a sitting President.

The General Officer Commanding, One Mechanised Division,Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, who said this while addressing newsmen on the activities of officers and men under his command in 2015, said if the Shi’ite could attack the Chief of Army Staff, they could as well attack the nation’s President.

Oyebade, therefore, warned the Shi’ite and other Islamic sects against violence, declaring that the Army would not fold its arms to watch Nigerians being molested.

He said the Nigerian Army remained unapologetic over the clashes with the Shi’ite members.

He noted that the clashes were avoidable if the Shi’ite members had restrained themselves from attacking the convoy of the COAS.

Oyebade added that the Army would not allow any group, be it religion or otherwise to threaten the peace and stability of the people under his command.

He said the Army took the decision on the Shi’ite members in order to curtail what could have snowballed into another major security challenge like the Boko Haram.

According to the GOC, the Nigerian Army had no issue with the Shi’ites as long as they obey constituted authority.

The GOC said, “The so-called clash was avoidable, the Nigerian Army has no issue with the Shi’ites. They are like any sect in the land but as long as they obey the law of the land, there won’t be any problem.

“But if any group choose to challenge the authority of the land, it means they do not value the sanctity of life and the constitution of Nigeria.

“We have problem with those who choose to challenge the authority of the state and create a state within a state, who do not recognise the laws of the land. An attempt on COAS is akin to an attempt on a sitting President. So, in the cause of doing our work we make no apology to any group.”

Oyebade assured the people under his command (North-West zone) comprising Kaduna, Kano, Katsina,Kebbi, Niger, Kogi, Zamfara and Sokoto states, that the Army would do everything possible as mandated by the constitution to safeguard their lives and property at all times.

On Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, the GOC said 21 elements of the sect who had infiltrated the zone (North-west) had been arrested and handed over to the appropriate agency for further interrogation.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has no hands in the way the EFCC carries out its functions.

Mr Mohammed disclosed this on Wednesday to State House correspondents in Abuja while responding to reactions trialling Mr Olisa Metuh’s arrest by the EFCC.

The Minister challenged the media to carry out investigations on such reports to authenticate whether such allegations are true or false.

“I think the first point to make is that this government is not micro-managing any of the anti-graft agencies. I know for a fact that they don’t contact the President or anybody before they do their job.

“I think the media also has to do more than they are doing right now, they should investigate these allegations and also make their independent judgment about it.

“Honestly, if the EFCC or ICPC says that they are able to trace certain amount of money to my account, I don’t want you to believe it, I want you to also ask for proof; do your investigation.

“I can assure you that this government, no functionary in government micromanages or directs the EFCC or ICPC on who to arrest and who not to arrest”, he said.

This is coming after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh, on Tuesday morning.

According to a statement, officials of the anti-graft agency told the opposition party spokesman that he was being invited on a friendly note to answer questions at the EFCC Headquarters in Abuja.

The PDP subsequently released a statement, signed by its National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, that the arrest of Mr Metuh was part of a larger script by the government to ensure that the party’s wings were finally clipped.

The party said that it was not surprised by the arrest because according to them, it came after series of threats on the PDP spokesperson.

“The excesses of security agencies under this government, especially the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) and the EFCC, in abridging the human rights of PDP members have become worrisome and a threat to our democratic evolution,” the statement read.

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