The Nigerian Army has berated Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, for alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits.
Sheikh Gumi had, during a meeting in February with some suspected bandits in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna states, accused non-Muslim soldiers of killing and attacking Muslim bandits.
He alleged that the non-Muslims soldiers were stirring confusion with the aim of wreaking havoc.
“What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and none Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis,” the Islamic cleric had said.
Reacting in a statement on Monday, army spokesperson, Mohammed Yerima, said the security agency does not deploy troops along ethnic or religious lines.
He urged Sheikh Gumi and others not to bring the image and reputation of the army into disrepute.
The statement read:
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video cilp showing the renowned and respected Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits.
“In the video clip, the Islamic scholar was seen telling the bandits that the soldiers involved in most attacks against them were non-Muslims. He further stated that they should be aware that soldiers are divided into Muslims and non-Muslims.
“While the Nigerian Army would not want to take issues with the respected Sheik Ahmed Gumi, it is however important to restate that the Nigerian Army as a national institution does not deploy its troops along ethnic or religious lines.
“Therefore, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and other opinion merchants are please enjoined to exercise restraint not to drag the image and reputation of one of the most reliable national institutions into disrepute.
“The Nigerian Army remains the pride of the nation and has continually defended the territorial integrity of this great nation.
“Comments suggesting to mudslide the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army are not only inimical but tended towards creating bad blood amongst Nigerians.
“Furthermore, most operations conducted by the Nigerian Army are done in strict adherence to rules of engagement, code of conduct and respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry without any exception.
“It is therefore, disturbing that an opinion leader would deliberately want to disparage the Nigeria Army to portray it in a bad light.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to use this opportunity to advise opinion leaders to be more courteous while expressing their views, taking into cognisance the imperative for national security, particularly at this difficult time when our gallant troops have redoubled their efforts to tackle the myriads of security challenges facing our dear nation.
“What our troops need now is public support to discharge their responsibility effectively and in the most professional manner.”