Posted by News Express | 6 September 2014 | 3,282 times
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Onyeabor Azuuike Ihejirika (rtd.), has vehemently denied allegations that he is a sponsor of the dreaded Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria. He made the denial yesterday even as the State Security Service (SSS) also absolved him of complicitly in the sponsorship of the evil group.
An Australian self-appointed negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis, had in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation named Gen. Ihejirika as one of the sponsors of terrorists, alonside ex-governor of Borno State Ali Modu-Sheriff.
However, the ex-Army chief, while speaking in Abuja at a gathering of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Alumni 18 Regular Course, described the allegation as frivolous. He pointed out that he was at the forefront of establishing counter-terrorism structures while serving as the COAS, emphasising that he can never sponsor terrorism.
Gen. Ihejirika said: “I will not and I will never, no matter the situation and pressures, contribute in overheating the system. When we joined the military, it was a sacrifice for our country.
“Ironically, 18 Regular Course suffered one of the worst disasters. Our course suffered several hurdles, which we had to pass through. Boko Haram menace is one hurdle that is challenging but we shall overcome.”
He also warned that no group of persons or individuals should toy with national security in the name of politics. On the other hand, “I therefore enjoin everybody to join hands with President Goodluck Jonathan to end Boko Haram. Such frivolous accusations are a way of diverting attention from the main issue. We must not help terrorists or play into their hands.
“Kudos to President Jonathan, we were able to recruit 9,000 troops to build up our strength to boost our border security. This recruitment exercise was the first mass recruitment after the civil war, all in efforts to contain terrorism and insurgency.
“We also established counter-terrorism centre in Kontagora in Niger State, which is named after me. Then we established 7 Division in Maiduguri. The terrorists are not sleeping. I have noticed that war is no longer fought on the triple dimension of air, land and sea.
“The terrorists are now using the fourth dimension, which is the media and this is a psychological warfare that the insurgents now engaged in. It is our task as retired officers to help those in service to help defeat this Boko Haram psychological warfare.
“The civil-military affairs department, which I established, was meant to educate the populace on the dangers of terrorism and insurgency and to encourage citizens to come out and preach against Boko Haram. We even got Nollywood actors to produce jingles in the three major languages and English, which were aired on national television, on the dangers of Boko Haram.”
The ex-military chief recalled that in 2011 during the annual army conference, he foresaw Boko Haram as a major problem but some of his colleagues discarded his thinking.
Meanwhile, SSS Spokesperson Marilyn Ogar at a press conference in Abuja exonerated Ihejirika of the allegation of sponsoring Boko Haram, but disclosed that Modu-Sheriff would be invited for more questioning on his involvement with the terrorist group.
According to Ogar, “It is absolutely uncharitable for us as Nigerians to reward somebody who laid down his life in pursuing these same people, for us to accept that he can in anyway be associated as sponsoring the same sect.”
She also dismissed allegations against the Service by Stephen Davis, who had accused them of not investigating a purported Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official who handles the funding of Boko Haram activities.
Davis had noted that the SSS has in its custody three cousins arrested over planning April 14 Nyanya bombing whose Uncle in the CBN has not been investigated. Ogar, who described Davis as a self-styled negotiator, stated that of the six suspects in custody over the Nyanya bombing, none is related to another by blood.
Parading the suspects before journalists, they denied having any uncle or being related to each other.
•Photo shows Gen. Ihejirika.
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