The Nigerian military on Tuesday rejected the allegation that soldiers were carrying out attacks aimed at killing Muslims. The military described a statement issued by the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, JNI, alleging extra-judicial killing of Muslims as ‘inflammatory.’
The JNI had issued a statement on Monday accusing the military of carrying out attacks targeted at unharmed Muslims. The JNI is a coalition of Islamic organisations in Nigeria and is headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar.
In its response, the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, said in a statement that JNI’s statement was false and was meant to cause disaffection within the military.
Mr. Olukolade said although the military would not join issues with the reputable religious group, it would, however, set the records straight.
“The Nigerian military remains non-partisan, non-sectarian and will continue to be the symbol of patriotism and a unifying factor in the face of threats to national sovereignty,” he said.
The spokesperson said the army does not operate on religious or ethnic lines; and no law abiding individual, faith, or ethnic group is being targeted contrary to the JNI’s claims.
“Contrary to the false claims, no law abiding individual, faith, ethnic group or organisation is being targeted as alleged by JNI. It is unfortunate that the unjust imputation is coming from respectable and responsible organisation like JNI,” he said.
The JNI, in a statement Monday by its Secretary General, Khalid Aliyu, said Muslims were continuously being murdered and maimed indiscriminately, including by soldiers, in the guise of fighting terrorism.
The organisation made reference to the killing of 15 Fulani men in Nasarawa allegedly by soldiers.
The village head of Rugan Ardo, Abubakar Sodangi, had said that the people killed in his community on Thursday during a military operation in Keana Local Government of Nasarawa were tied before they were executed.
Mr. Olukolade had told PREMIUM TIMES that the military would investigate the killings.
The JNI also mentioned the killing of at least 112 people, predominantly Muslims, by armed men on Saturday in Zamfara.
“We can say without any fear of contradiction that there is a grand agenda to destabilize the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. If any Nigerian is in doubt regarding the hidden grand agenda to destabilizes Muslims in Nigeria, and cautiously reduce their rising human capital, then the Zamfara State incidence should have removed this doubt,” the JNI secretary said.
In his Tuesday statement, Mr. Olukolade admonished JNI to desist from propaganda that could discredit genuine efforts being made in putting a stop to Nigeria’s security challenge.
He said the Nigerian military will continue to be driven by patriotism and its commitment to the cause of the nation and its law abiding citizens. He called for cooperation between the military and responsible organisations to address the security challenges facing Nigeria.
Mr. Olukolade said the Armed Forces comprises of Nigerians from different religions and cannot be used against any particular religion or take side or shield anyone from justice.
He said that individuals apprehended in the course of counter-terrorism campaign will continue to have access to justice as provided by law.