Nigeria’s former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma, has called on Nigerians, particularly Christian communities who are facing continuous attacks and killings by Islamist Fulani herdsmen to “defend themselves before they all die.”
The former military general and an elder of the northern Christian forum, speaking at the Taraba State University on Saturday 24th March, said, Christians in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria must “rise and defend themselves against the killers.”
“This ethnic creasing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military, they cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no any other place to go.” General Danjuma said to Christians.
“The ethnic cleansing must stop now otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask all of you to be on your alert and defend your country, defend your state.” He added. “You must rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the Arm Forces to protect you, you will all die.”
The call by the General is coming on the on the heel of the realization that the Nigerian government is either deliberately, or unwittingly, funding and fueling the Boko Haram insurgency in the country. The manner in which the Dapchi schoolgirls were kidnapped and then released, left many questions unanswered, in addition to the refusal of the Nigerian army to tackle the protracted killing of predominantly Christians in the middle belt region of the country by Fulani Islamist militias.
The Telegraph in an interview with a former intermediary to Boko Haram, said the Dpachi Schoolgirls abduction was “all very fishy,” adding that “Normally, Boko Haram rapes and abuses any girls as soon as they kidnap them. Yet this group were brought back after just three weeks, mostly unharmed. It looks like a set-up.”
Boko Haram abducts women to provide the Islamic militants with “bush wives” and to keep the fighters happy with sex slaves. The popularization and call for the release of the Chibok Schoolgirls made them a prized possession for Boko Haram which they released in stages to maximize the opportunity and make more money. The use of the girls to make millions of Dollar as well as gain the release of their fighters in government prisons have paid off effectively. Grant T Harris, former US envoy to Africa, speaking to the Telegraph, said, “Kidnapping groups of young women mobilizes a strong international reaction that pressures the government to respond, which is helpful,” he said. “But if the government goes the route of paying ransoms, it will only encourage more kidnappings, the former envoy observed.
Anxiety continues to grow in the predominant Christian Middle Belt region with the emerging information that the Nigerian government, in addition to the alledged €5 million given for the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls, “The biggest concession made so far is the release of Hussaini Maitangaran, who spearheaded several deadly attacks in Kano, including Central Mosque attack, which killed more than 1,000 people. He was arrested by the DSS on 31th August 2017. The release was part of Dapchi school girls swap deal,” Ann Mcgregor, an expert in global security and intelligence, in an international news site, News Plus Views, on March 28, revealed.
Ann added that “The discomfort stem from the collusion and allegation of corruption between the Nigerian negotiation team made of the Director-General of Departments of Security Services, Mr Lawal Daura, the Nigeria’s Interior Minister, General Abdulrahman Dambazau, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe the foreign policy chief and the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari on one hand and the Swiss Embassy team in Nigeria and personnel of Human Security Department of Swiss Foreign Ministry.”
General T Y Danjuma therefore pointed out that “The armed forces are not neutral, they collude with the armed bandits. They facilitate their movement. They cover them. We must resist it, we must stop it. Every one of us must rise. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will die one by one. This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State. It must stop in all the states of Nigeria.” He told the convocation.
The Nigerian army and federal government, in a reaction to Danjuma’s speech, said the comment was “highly uncalled for and is an invitation to anarchy and should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.” The army claimed that “The Nigerian Armed Forces is well organized and highly professional in discharging its constitutional mandate. Therefore, if anyone has evidence of wrongdoings or dereliction of duty against our troops, he should please bring forward such evidence through appropriate channels for necessary action.” Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali, the Defence Minister said.
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), on 31st March, in response to the criticism of Danjuma’s speech, said, “Nigerians should make adequate arrangements to defend themselves since it is clear the security services have become tools of Islamists in the promotion of Sharia Ideology over and above Democracy which is the authentic ideology of Nigeria.” Solomon Asemota, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chairman of the forum, added.
Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, Executive secretary, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), called on Christians to rise to the challenge heed the call by Danjuma. “Fact is, should you choose to run, where to? My take? Let’s stand our ground, this land, God gave us, No running, we won’t Cede.” Para-Mallam said. “The killings in the Middlebelt States and the direction the whole country is going is something we all should not ignore.”
Many Christian communities have for many years distrusted the Nigerian army’s handling of the insurgencies by Boko Haram and the anarchy by the Fulani cattle herders.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image credits/Google Images/Gen Danjuma/Para-Mallam/Army with Fulani: Author