The Nigerian Army has described as disturbing, the statement credited to a respected Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that non-Muslim soldiers are behind attacks against bandits.
Gumi was quoted to be telling some bandits in a video clip that the soldiers involved in most attacks against them were non-Muslims.
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However, the Nigerian Army in its response to Gumi’s claim warned the Islamic scholar and those it described as “opinion merchants” in the country to exercise restraint with their utterances and stop dragging the military in the mud.
The Army, through its spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, said it does not deploy troops along religious or ethnic lines.
The statement read, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video-clip 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 join 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 to 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 were 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 bad light.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to seize 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.”