OPINION | Nigerian Army and Where Sowore Got it Wrong, By Charles Mbani 

October 16, 2020
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In his latest misadventure, Sahara Reporters quoted its publisher as berating the Army while charging it to be loyal to Nigerians. Sowore apparently took this dig at the military institution on his Twitter handle in response to a statement issued by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in which he expressed the resoluteness of the Army to maintain the peace and stability of Nigeria. It turned out that peace and stability in Nigeria is something that Sowore is not comfortable with.

The body of the statement contained nothing that should warrant any cultured human to rain abuses on anyone or any organization. The statement simply reassured “law abiding citizens that it is highly committed to the sustenance of peace, security and defence of democracy in Nigeria.” It went further reaffirm unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a position currently held by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Constitution of the Country.

The statement of course went on to warn “subversive elements and troublemakers” of the Army’s commitment to defend Nigeria with the assurance that it would deal decisively with any situation while it will fully support the civil authorities to maintain law and order.

This statement clearly identified two sets of people: law abiding citizens and subversive elements. It is interesting to note how those in the former category simply took the statement in passing without raising hues and cries over its content, which is meant to reassure them anyway. Sowore, being the chief priest of the latter, definitely has something to fear.

The “law abiding citizens” kicked off the protest for #EndSARS, achieved results, and returned to their productive lives. The “subversive elements and trouble makers” however hijacked the protest and are now using the momentum created to make spurious demands that expose their evil intent. SARS has been disbanded but they are now asking for the resignation of the Inspector General of Police with all indications that they will ask for the abolition of all security agencies next before demanding for the sack of the government, which has been a long running objective of these dubious elements even before the 2019 General Elections.

It is a well-known fact that these subversive elements are being bankrolled by internet fraudsters, supported by the opposition and coordinated by disreputable international NGOs. The fraudsters want a free space to continue depriving people of their hard earned cash, the opposition wants to take over power through the backdoor without having to face elections or legitimately secure the mandate of the people so that they do not have to be accountable while the international NGOs remain in pursuit of their hidden agenda to destabilize Nigeria.

Anyone that is in doubt should ponder how Sowore with the likes of Aisha Yusufu, Deji Adeyanju and other career protestors are tenuously struggling to make the protest into Nigeria’s own Arab Spring, that Middle East misadventure that primed the region for a meltdown. What right thinking citizens would hijack a protest that is meant for good and repurpose it for evil? Why would anyone think of recreating an Arab Spring in Nigeria when its outcome in many countries that joined in it is that they are still smoldering wrecks?

Sowore will have to go the extra mile to persuade anyone that he is not linked to these aforementioned three categories. The way he has been attacking anyone or any institution that stands in the way of these three entities is something that calls for concern. We should be worried that Sowore decided to bad mouth the Army because it reaffirmed loyalty to the President and the Constitution.

The position of the Nigerian Army is highly professional and aimed at protecting pro-protest, anti-protest and even fence sitters. They are all Nigerians and their collective mandate is with the President as guaranteed by the constitution.

The lie that the Army is planning a harsh clamp down on citizens is laughable. Even at their most loutish, the Army has been measured in ensuring that it did not get into confrontations with protesters that get violent. The human rights record of the Army under the leadership of General TY Burata as the Chief of Army Staff, who had since set up a Human Rights Desk. People on legitimate peaceful protest therefore have nothing to fear.  It is certain that if the Army was on the street nobody would have been allowed to molest any citizen irrespective of sentiments, affiliation or what sides they belong in the ongoing protests across the country.

The reassurance by the Nigerian Army is totally in order. Their loyalty must remain to Nigeria, the Constitution and the President elected to uphold that Constitution. There is no way that the statement of reassurance from the Army should be construed as intimidation. It is Sowore that is in the wrong and he, with his co-travelers, owes Nigerians an apology. He should take advantage of the statement to turn a new leaf so that he would not be counted as part of the subversive elements and troublemakers that are out to wreck Nigeria.

*Mbani is a pro-democracy activist based in Abuja.

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