Alleged Atiku’s Visit: Observers knock Buratai, others exonerate him, as ex-Defence chief explains why terrorists kill soldiers



*Retired General says killing not sign of weakness

*Fighting conventional war different ball game – General Agwai

*There should be protocol guiding who visit security forces – Observers

*Atiku exploited ‘condolence visit’ to get at Army – Others

*President Buhari warns against politicizing soldiers’ deaths


There have been mixed reactions over alleged recent visit by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai following killing by Boko Haram terrorists of some soldiers.

Where some knocked the Army chief for allowing the visit to happen, others exonerated him saying Atiku’s exploitation of ‘condolence visit’ could not have been rejected by him.

These were happening just as former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd), at the weekend gave core reason Boko Haram terrorists possibly kill soldiers.

He explained that the troops battling Boko Haram terrorists in the North East were suffering casualties because they were not fighting conventional warfare.

Agwai’s angle came on a day President Muhammadu Buhari warned Nigerians to desist from politicising the deaths of soldiers killed after Boko Haram overran their base in Borno State last Sunday.

The former Defence chief explained that soldiers were originally trained to fight conventional warfare, saying what they were facing at the moment in the North East was strange to their training.

To this end, he appealed to Nigerians not to see the killing of troops as a sign of weakness on the part of the military, insisting that in an unconventional warfare, troops must suffer casualty.

The former Chief of Army Staff, who spoke to journalists weekend on the sideline of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students, NIFES, held in Abuja, asked Nigerians not to make so much issues out of the ugly development, even as he described it as so sad for the nation.

Hear him:  “Let me say with all sincerity that it is so sad that we have lost such number of people (soldiers).

“Let me also remind all of us that when a dog bites man, it’s not news but the day a man bites dog, you know that it’s news. How many of you have reported the number of Boko Haram that have been arrested, those that have been detained and those that have been killed by the security agents?

“It’s because that is the dog biting man, that’s what is expected of the troops.  But you cannot go to abattoir and you say you don’t want blood to touch you. If you don’t want blood to touch you, then you must not go to abattoir.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday warned Nigerians to desist from politicising the deaths of soldiers killed after Boko Haram overran their base in Borno State last Sunday.

Scores of soldiers were killed, while 153 were declared missing in the attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno State.

Other Nigerians, reacting to efforts by opposition at making political gains from the soldiers’ deaths, knocked the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, for granting audience to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who paid him sympathy visit following news of the killing of the soldiers.

One of them said, “There should be a protocol guiding who visits the security forces and at what time.  The visit by Atiku should not have been allowed at all because, the Chief of Army Staff should have known enough of any member of the opposition can use anything to get at this government due to their desperation.”

Some other citizens however exonerated Buratai but rather knocked Atiku for ridiculing the military by using the collateral damage caused the nation’s main security backbone as tool for achieving political goal.

“I think what Buratai did was look at the excuse of ‘condolence visit’ that Atiku exploited.  But I know that General so well that he would not be so relaxed,” a respondent who reacted in a questionnaire by The DEFENDER said.

After initial silence from both the Presidency and the Nigerian military apparently while work was going underground at determining what led to the incident, Buhari condemned the killing on Saturday, promising to wipe out the insurgency and prioritise the plight of Nigerian troops involved in the counter-insurgency operations.

Reiterating his administration’s commitment to defeating the insurgency yesterday, President Buhari emphasised the need for Nigerians to see the insurgents as common enemies, and shun the urge to seek political advantage from their evil campaign.

The President said on his Twitter handle that: “We must resist the temptation to play politics with the tragedy of the deaths of our soldiers.  They are heroes on the frontlines, fighting to make Nigeria a safer place for us all.

“Rest assured that the circumstances that have led to these deaths will be comprehensively addressed.”

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