A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) has described the allegation by an Australian hostage negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis that he is one of the sponsors of the Boko Haram sect as frivolous and unfounded.
According to Ihejirika, the allegation was meant to divert the attention of the country and its security agencies from the challenges posed by the sect.
Speaking with journalists at the National Defence College, Abuja on Friday, the former army chief warned against giving undue attention to what he called frivolous and baseless accusations.
According to him, such allegation would have been dismissed if it were made in a developed country like the United States or the United Kingdom.
The insurgents, Ihejirika claimed, were exploiting the country’s diverse ethnic, religious and other fault lines to wage war against the nation, adding that the war has now been taken to the media.
He stated that some people considered his handling of the counter insurgency campaign high handed, during his tenure as Chief of Army Staff, but said he owed such people no apologies.
“If this accusation was made in a country like US or UK, it would not be discussed for one hour because they would wave it aside; but they are exploiting our traditional fault lines, a multi-religious, multi ethnic, multi-cultural and young democracy, so what they have tried to do is aimed at achieving what they could not achieve”, he said.
He continued: “I have chosen to do this because we cannot allow national security to be toyed with; the need for security awareness in spite of the effort I put in at time and the effort being put by the current leadership of the Armed Forces, the need for security awareness still persists.
“I want to urge all Nigerians to join hands to support Mr. President and members of the Armed Forces in their onerous task to rid this country of terrorism.
“I want to further advise that baseless, unfounded and frivolous allegations like this have the capacity of diverting our attention, away from the main problem.
“Nigeria must exist before you can hold a single political office and there is no compromise in the effort to have a peaceful and united Nigeria. Therefore, I have no apologies at all whatsoever to those who thought I was high handed.
“I used to explain to them that the Nigerian Army is not high handed, but every Army makes a lot of efforts to ensure that its troops operate within the rule of engagement”.
The Abia State governorship hopeful noted that the Nigerian Army under his leadership recruited 9000 soldiers in 2013 to beef up the strength of the military and to monitor the borders more effectively.
He urged Nigerians to avoid utterances that could bring down the morale of Nigerian troops, a situation which he warned, could be counter-productive.
According to him, the allegation made against him by Davis should have been a subject of discuss if the citizenry had a better knowledge of the strategy and tactics employed by terrorists and that if politics in the country was mature enough.
He stressed that the insurgents were waging a media campaign to achieve what they have not been able to achieve through violence.
His words: “That we are where we are today is a lesson to us. The lesson is that the terrorists are not sleeping; what they cannot achieve through bombing they want to achieve through media warfare.
“War is no longer fought in the traditional three dimension of air, land and sea; we have clearly seen the fourth dimension of warfare”, he stated.
Ihejirika said he was unruffled by the attention given to the allegation because of his belief that “we are yet to come to terms with the motives of the terrorists and their desire to bring this nation down”.