Army urges restraint in reportage

David Adekunle, Lagos

Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai addressing the media on negative reporting.

The Nigerian media, especially online publications have been urged to be patriotic in their reportage of Boko Haram activities.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai made the call in Abuja at  a one-day seminar on “Assessing the Threats of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria.’’

Mr. Buratai emphasised that the online media had misunderstood Nigerian Army in its handling of the war against terrorism in the North-East.

“We call on Nigerians, the press, especially the online media, to take note that they are Nigerians and should therefore behave like Nigerians and be patriotic.”

“They should take the issue of defence and security as their personal issue, not to criticise, malign, or smear anybody that is making sacrifice.
“Defence and security is issue that should be the concern of everybody, issues of security and defence are not just discussed like political issues.

“It is a serious national security issue that must be discussed with caution, it is must be discussed with high sense of patriotism and national security and protection of our sovereignty.”

He stressed that, “Whatever happens to the military it was the symbol of our sovereignty, so if you ridicule the military and any of the security agencies, you are ridiculing your own country and your own sovereignty.”

“You must be very cautious in handing any issue that has to do with the army in particular. We are not politicians we are doing our job professionally.

“This is the understanding we expect every Nigerian to show. Normal administrative matters are not meant for criticism.”
The chief of army staff decried a situation where some of the online media celebrated the death of personnel who paid the supreme price to make their country and its people secure.

Commenting on late Lt-Col. Muhammad Abu-Ali, he described his death as “one too many.’’

Mr. Abu-Ali was killed by the terrorists in Mallam Fatori in Northern Borno, on November 4, in their failed attempt to seize the town.

Until his death he was the Commanding Officer, 272 Task Force Battalion, Mallam Fatori.

Earlier, while declaring the seminar open, Mr. Buratai said that the armed forces had effectively responded to the threats of Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, leading to their decimation.

He noted that the threats of the terrorists since 2009 and other violent agitations in other parts of the country had threatened the sovereignty and corporate existence of the nation.

“In the North-East for instance, our forces operating under the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and Operation Lafiya Dole have restored normalcy in areas that were previously under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists and are currently conducting mop- up operations to clear isolated remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest,’’ he said.

Also speaking, the Director of the African Centre, Atlantic Council, USA, Mr. John Pham said the centre had been following progress made by the Nigerian troops in the campaign against insurgency.

Mr. Pham said that it was important for Nigeria, its neighbours and the international community that the terrorists were defeated, as their activities had caused untold suffering and a setback to regional integration and economic growth.