Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fear Of Boko Haram: Soldiers Deserting Force – Army chief

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Kenneth Minimah has revealed that some army personnel have abandoned the force due to the fear of the terrorists group Boko Haram.

Minimah, who gave the warning during a working tour of Lagos and its environs yesterday, condemned the actions of some soldiers who deserted the Force for fear of engaging in battle against the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Minimah said such actions by the soldiers vividly showed that they joined the force for the wrong reasons.

“Sometimes, journalists ask me questions, saying soldiers are deserting their jobs because they don’t want to be killed in the North East. I tell them yes, it is true. Desertion is part of war. A real soldier is known when he is put in the warfront. The one who is not a soldier would run away and abandon his job. Our soldiers are recruited from the Nigerian society and, today, most people are not called to be soldiers, they joined because they are desperately in need of jobs.

“ As long as there is war, there would continue to be desertion and there would continue to be recruitment. Since Alexander The Great, soldiers have been deserting. In the Second World War, there was desertion and even in the Nigeria Civil War, people deserted. It is only in peacetime that you don’t see people deserting. But those who volunteer to fight and defend their nation do not desert; they fight until there is victory.”

Lt.-Gen. Minimah also warned soldiers resident in Lagos to obey the laws of the state and be of good behaviour.

He said: “As a disciplined institution (Army) we have an image to protect. I would admonish you to be of good conduct whether in uniform or not. Conduct yourselves very well. Do not be involved in any questionable movement.

“Respect the rule of law. Respect the laws of Lagos. Lagos State has laws that are made by legislators, you must respect those laws. I am also talking about the BRT lanes. Try and ensure that you don’t use the BRT lanes. The essence of BRT lanes is to encourage the use of public transportation by car owners so as to reduce traffic on our roads.

“The other time a soldier was mistakenly killed and hoodlums took advantage of the incident to attack buses. I want to say that it was not the army who destroyed those buses.”

Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola yesterday urged the Lt.-Gen Minimah lay off bad eggs in the Nigerian Army who are tainting the nation’s military institution.

Fashola who said this when the Lt. General Minimah paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Marina noted that like other institutions in the country, there are bad eggs in the Nigerian Army and everything must be done to purge them out.

“Nigerian Army has done very well for Nigeria as a body but like every institution, there are bad eggs within the institution. They are in the minority and we must continue to do everything possible to show them up for who they are,” he said.

The governor who acknowledged the efforts of the military in sustaining the country’s democracy, noted that the military owes it a duty to refrain from anything that can undermine the nation’s democracy whether in conduct or deed.

“I think that it is important to reinforce the role that military across the world have played in democracy. While society moved on, as we have done, the military owes it an obligation to do everything that is possible to sustain its democracy and to refrain from anything that undermines it whether in the mind of the people or as a matter of fact. In essence, the military must become like Caesar’s wife avoid suspicion in conduct and in deeds,” he added.

Earlier, Lt. General Minimah had said he delayed his familiarization tour for six months as a result of the exigencies of work.

According to him, “When I assumed office, the exigencies of operation did not allow me to commence my familiarization tour of the formations. Six months later, I have decided to commence my familiarization tour from the 81 division which covers Lagos and Ogun state.”

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