Days after a Nigerian Army Colonel, Abu Ali was killed in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno state, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Yusuf Buratai, has revealed that eight and not four soldiers were killed last Friday.
Buratai’s statement contradicts an earlier insinuation that only four soldiers, including Colonel Ali were killed in the ambush. The Army Chief has also called for a close scrutiny of utterances of individuals and organizations in the country.
The COAS made the remarks on Monday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to explain the acquisition of some disputed plots of lands in the territory by the Army.
Though Buratai did not explain further, he said some responses and utterances by highly placed individuals in the country were posing serious threats to national security.
“The fight against Boko Haram is a matter of concern to us. What we are going to witness today will be an eye opener. Although we have had cases of officers killed, this time calls for closer scrutiny of responses by individuals and organizations to national security.
“We must take the issue of security seriously. That is the only way we can take the issue of bringing this insurgency to a close. We need the support of the Senate. We will not remain in this condition. We need to improve on our facilities.
“We need to relocate the headquarters of the current military office. The current location is not so convenient for us,” he said.
Buratai, while mourning the death of the fallen soldiers, vowed that the Army will continue to defend the territorial integrity of the country against internal and external attacks.
“We are pleased to hear all the condolences about the death of our soldiers. We have buried the gallant officer and six other officers at the National Military Cemetery. It is a service of sacrifice and we are ever ready to sacrifice our lives to bring peace and stability to our country. We want to appreciate our fallen soldiers.
“We want to assure that we will continue to safeguard this country against internal and external forces. We are ever ready to defend the country.
Speaking on the disputed land located in Maitama District of Abuja, the Army Chief said the allocation of the plots to civilians was posing serious security threats to military formations in Abuja.
He explained: “The land under dispute is posing security. If the committee visits the place, they will understand what we are talking about. We are ready to submit ourselves to the civil authorities. The issue at hand about the land in Maitama, I want to concur with the Minister of FCT. We are talking and we will continue to talk until we arrive at a decision.
“Members of the Army are citizens of FCT. We will remain law abiding. While we are carrying out our duties, we want to make something clear. Before anyone builds something close to a barrack, he or she needs to consider the security implications.”
Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, told the Minister to ensure that residents who have already made payments were adequately compensated.
He stated: “We are representatives of the people. Some of the people given lands there are former military officers. I want to ask the Minister whether or not those who have made payments for land allocations will not lose anything they have invested. We need this assurance.”
Accusing the immediate-past FCT Minister of allocating lands wrongly, Melaye said: “If the land is sold to enemy forces, it can be used as a base to attack the military. It was very irresponsible for that land to have been allocated to private individuals. That land was allocated to the military in 1996. I do not know why they relocated the land to people.
“Bala Mohammed was allocating lands indiscriminately. The only place he did not allocate was the round about. It is a misnomer. I am saying this to avoid a repeat of this in the future.”
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