Fulani coalition hails military over fight against banditry, terrorism 

A Coalition of 23 Fulani groups working for lasting peace and the protection of citizens’  rights has commended the Nigerian Military for intensifying onslaught on terrorists disturbing the peace in the North West general area and the country at large.

Operating under the banner of the Conference of Fulbe Group for Peace and Human Rights ( COFUGOHR), the amalgamated group opined that the resilience, determination and patriotic zeal with which troops have brought to bear on the ongoing counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and other ongoing operations across the country’s six geo-political zones showed that the fighting forces’ morale is high.

The coalition, which declared after an emergency meeting held in Kaduna on Sunday, 21st/January 2024, insisted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) remained one of the most professionally trained institutions in the world.

The Fulani group specifically passed a vote of confidence on the Nigerian Military and its troops, insisting that actions taken in the cause of routing bandits and other criminal elements in the country had not deviated from international best practices.

The statement conveying the resolutions of the coalition was signed on Monday by Dr Hamza Ibrahim, President of (COFUGOHR) and Convener, Hajiya Zanaib Gidado (President, League of Fulbe Women Rights Advocates, and Ardo Yau’ Modibo (President of Fulbe Professional for Peace and Equity in Africa.

The group assured Nigerians that the military high command had shown the needed courage and determination to deny criminal elements freedom of action, thereby containing the security challenges occasioned by banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and separatist agitations, among others.

While urging the general public to increase their support for the military and other security agencies making daily sacrifices to secure Nigerians, the coalition warned against attempts by some individuals and groups to undermine the authorities and weaken their resolve to execute their constitutional mandate.

Specifically, COFUGOHR explained that military operations are conducted based on specific rules of engagement, which conform with international best practices and absolute respect for human rights, among other standards of operation.

Consequently, the group absolved the Nigerian Army of 1 Division Kaduna of any complicity in the killing of 11 Fulani in the Laduga grazing reserve of Kaduna State, stressing the fact that troops, by their training, are focused on identifying, isolating and dealing with recalcitrant enemies of the state who have refused to turn a new leaf.

The coalition, however, charged the security agencies, especially the military, to redouble their efforts in the face of the current security challenges in the country to boost the morale of the administration of President Bola Tinubu by securing the lives and properties of citizens.

Even as noted, the security situation of any country could not be one hundred per cent satisfactory; still, of course, there is a level at which no government can be comfortable with insecurity.

The statement read: “On Sunday, the 21st day of January 2024, we (a coalition of 23 Fulbe groups) gathered in Kaduna to review ongoing military operations in the North West in particular, and the nation in general, as part of efforts to keep our people abreast of latest developments within and around them.

“We boldly say that the Nigerian Military has recorded tremendous operational successes even though there is still room for improvements since the assumption of offices by the Service Chiefs, led by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Gwabin Musa.

“Contrary to the narrative put forward by some disgruntled elements, who are merchants of violence and purveyors of fake News, we wish to inform our people and Nigerians that the Army was not responsible for the killing of eleven Fulani men in Laduga  Kaduna State as erroneously insinuated.

“We concluded that the Kaduna incident has no link whatsoever with the Nigerian Army after conducting a detailed and comprehensive investigation into the unfortunate matter.

“We, therefore, call on those affected either directly or indirectly to disregard the lies, as they are meant to paint the Army in a bad light while setting the people against them to achieve their selfish plan.

“It is also important to state that troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria – Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, and the Nigerian Air Force – are guided by codes of conduct as well as the rules of engagement whenever they are deployed for operations in any part of the country.”

The statement applauded troops’ aggressive posturing across the theatres of operation, which they claimed is paying off, as evidenced in the bi-weekly operational briefings by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja.

It, however, urged the Military to remain committed to hunting down criminal elements while denying them freedom of action until victory for the State is assured.

It concluded thus: “We commend the Military for sustaining aggression against terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other non-state actors, as can be seen in the numbers of the criminals killed weekly, arrests, and weapons recovered.

“Our prayer is that the guard will not be dropped until total victory is achieved; when our people and all will sleep with their eyes closed, will go to their farms without the fear of being killed or maimed, socialise freely, and conduct their daily activities in peace”.