The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), has debunked media reports Army personnel shot and killed some protesters that were protesting against Zamfara killings on Christmas Day.
In a statement Wednesday by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, the minister described the report as false and a calculated attempt to set Nigerians against the military.
The statement read, ”The attention of Ministry of Defence has been drawn to an online publication titled “Shocking video! Army Massacre Protesters Against Killings Zamfara” on elombah.com.
“The publication alleged that trooops of the Nigerian Army has killed some protesters in Zamfara State.
“This is out-right false, as no protester was shot let alone anyone losing his life during the unfortunate protest in Tsafe, Zamfara State yesterday.
“It is really shocking and utterly ridiculous for any medium to base its story on hearsay and conjectures of a video clip by a reknowned serial liar as was the case in the quoted story. For the avoidance of doubt, the fact of the matter was that, yesterday Monday 24th December 2018, at about 6.35am, the troops deployed at Tsafe Nigerian Army Forward Operating Base (FOB) received a report of protest action by the some suspected Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) mostly from Asola village in Tsafe Local Government Area (LGA). They were allegedly protesting against the security situation in their areas and lack of care.
“They were initially cautioned by the Emir of Tsafe on the protest action but they were adamant and continued with the protest. They were however joined by youths mostly identified as Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the area.
“The CJTF armed with Dane guns, clubs and other dangerous objects, attempted to attack the Divisional Police Station office, Tsafe, but were stopped by the police on duty. They later moved to the streets, blocking Tsafe-Gusau highway, burning tyres and setting Tsafe LGA Secretariat ablazed.
“In the course of the protest, some vehicles parked at the Secretariat were also burnt. They destroyed Administration offices, files, office equipment and other valuable items. It was in that process that the troops intervened. It is imperative to also state that there was an attempt to also burnt down the residence of the Chairman Tsafe LGA by the protesters, due to timely intervention of our troops, they could not achieve their aim.
” The troops also arrested one of the protesters, an identified CJTF with a Dane Gun. The suspect and the exhibit have been handed over to the police for further interrogation.
“Indeed, no life was lost and no recorded injuries, it is therefore preposterous for anyone to alleged shooting at the protesters by the troops of the Nigerian Army. Normalcy has since been restored in the affected areas. We enjoin the general public to disregard and ignore such unfounded allegation as it is not true.
“Consequently, we call on the management of elombah.com to retract the unfounded allegations and tender an unreserved apology to the Armed Forces of Nigeria and indeed the Nigerian public for the misleading publication. The Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to further advise citizens journalists such as elombah.com to show some level responsibility by always cross checking facts of the story before posting such information on their website.
“Once again, the Ministry of Defence want to assure all Nigerians that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will continue to discharge its contitutional roles irrespective of attempts by some un patriotic elements to distract it.”