The Nigerian Army has knocked a popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Gumi, for stating that some Nigerian soldiers were conniving with bandits and worsening the security situation in the country.
The army said on Wednesday that Sheikh Gumi's statement is both sad and unfortunate, adding that there was no reason for the Islamic scholars to deride the soldiers who lay down their lives always for the well-being of Nigerians.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said these in a release in reaction to Gumi's statement in an interview on Arise Television. ]
Nwachukwu noted that the army "remains a bonafide symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with rules of engagement and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry."
The army spokesman said, "The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate, but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country.
"It is essential to remind ourselves that these same military, being accused of connivance, are the ones who recently put their lives on the line to rescue abductees of the Government Secondary School, Birnin Yawuri from kidnappers.
"While the army will not attempt to excuse the possibility of black sheep amongst its fold, it must be stated unambiguously that it will not condone any form of sabotage or aiding and assisting the enemy by any personnel, as provisions for dealing decisively with such acts are crystallised in Section 45 (1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
"It must also be pointed out, that while the military is very much receptive to constructive criticism, it should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals. It is also necessary to reiterate that patriotism must be taken to a trajectory where subversive conversations on the state are brought to the barest minimum.
"Opinion leaders are enjoined to demonstrate patriotism in building the peace, rather than being agents of distabilisation, thereby aggravating the current security challenges facing the nation."