Erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, COAS, General Azubuike Ihejirika, has accused some northern elders of insensitivity to the plight of the country’s armed forces, who are making sacrifices to ensure the sustenance of peace in the North and disseminating misleading information on the fight against terrorism.
Reacting to a statement credited to chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi that he should be dragged before the International Criminal Court, ICC, for alleged crimes against humanity committed by soldiers prosecuting the fight against terrorism, the retired Army chief said such a call was ill-conceived and capable of demoralising soldiers making huge sacrifices for the nation, as well as jeopardizing the war against terrorism.
Speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja, after attending service at Aso Villa Chapel, Gen. Ihejirika, who last week was removed from office in a sweeping change to the composition of Service Chiefs by President Goodluck Jonathan, accused the northern elders of not even bothering to send condolence messages to the military which had lost personnel in the fight against insurgency in the North.
He said the elders should instead be thanking the military for making the sacrifices to keep the North safe, a situation the same elders stood to benefit more from.
He said: “My reaction to that is that their statement is ill-conceived perhaps based on some misinformation.
“The northern elders should be thanking the service chiefs, my officers and myself for making huge sacrifices, first, to see that Nigeria is safe and the north in particular, since they are the first beneficiaries of the sacrifices being made.
“There is no senatorial zone in this country that has not lost a personnel of the armed forces. It is unfortunate that the same elders, if they are really elders, have not cared to send a single condolence message to the military.
“I think that their statement is discouraging and it impacts negatively on the counter-terrorist efforts because as we speak, there are soldiers that have not had a meal since yesterday because of the peculiarity of where they are at the moment”.
General Ihejirika, however, expressed optimism that the fight against terrorism, which had been boosted by recent strategic measures, would very soon be over as the terrorists would be wiped out.
“It has been very busy thing. I believe that very soon Nigerians will be very happy because we have put quite a number of structures in place.
“I want to say that with some equipment and training that were carried out in recent days, there will be little or no hiding place for the insurgents”, he said.
Speaking on what he would be doing post-retirement, he said: “The immediate thing is to have a small vacation with my family and thereafter we can then think of what next”.