Nigerian Army accuses Sahara Reporters of smear campaign

The Nigerian Army has accessed the Sahara Reporters, an online medium of mischief and systematic smear campaign aimed at inciting troops, heating up the polity and destabilising the country.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachuku, made the allegation in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

Nwachukwu said the medium was planning to destabilise the nation through “spurious, baseless and false alarm on corruption, nepotism, ethnic and religious bigotry within the Nigerian army”.

According to him, a report by Sahara reporters was in total dissonance and aberance with the virtues and symbol of national unity, which the army and the Armed Forces of Nigeria represent.

He said the report contained some unimaginable slurs targeted at denigrating and demonising the procedure for the selection of competent troops for Peace Support Operations (PSO).

He said that those operations had over the years earned the Nigerian army well deserved encomiums and enviable status in the comity of nations, as a professional, hard-fighting, and disciplined institution.

Nwachukwu added that the Sahara Reporters story was built on crass ignorance and lies, as part of th the medium’s penchant of falsehood and attempts to denigrate the Army.

“Considering the unprofessional and irresponsible manner in which the smear allegations were concocted against the army, it clearly depicts a delusional perception and an abysmal bereftness of the slightest clue on routine processes of deployment exercises in the service.

“This incorrigible attitude has only further crystalised the inordinate desire of Sahara Reporters to incite mayhem and breakdown of law and order in a concerted effort to engender violence and destabilize the nation, through devious desperate and self-serving machinations.

“It is expedient to state that the real intention or otherwise of the infamous online media in publishing such toxic concoctions at this critical period is targeted at causing disaffection within a united and formidable military.”

He assured that the Army would not be distracted by the “deliberate falsehood and noxious narratives”, adding that it will not allow irresponsible media organisations denigrate selfless officers and soldiers, who continued to pay the price of defending the nation and global peace.

According to him, it is on record that officers and soldiers of the Nigerian army under the current leadership, have like never before, witnessed exceptional positive changes in morale, fighting spirit and physical components of the force.

He added that postings and redeployments to various formations and units, including the Army Headquarters, was a routine exercise aimed at ensuring that the army was effectively manned for operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Nwachukwu said the Nigerian army had over the years been firm with the criteria for selection of those to serve in the PSOs.

The criteria, according to him, ensures that personnel must have participated in counter-terrorism counter-insurgency operations in the North East for at least two years, among others.

According to him, it is on record that the army has never had it so good, given the quantum of combat and logistics equipment that have been injected into the theatres of operations, a circumstance that has evidently turned the tide against the complex array of threats facing the nation.

“This is in addition to welfare packages introduced by the incumbent leadership of the service.

“More also, aside the prompt payment of salaries and operational allowances, welfare flights have been inaugurated, which significantly reduced the burden of troops traveling in and out of the theatres to see their loved ones.

“This is also in addition to a huge commitment to the medical needs of wounded-in-action officers and soldiers and the barracks communities.

“Scholarships are also being awarded to children and wards of officers and soldiers who paid the supreme price in ongoing operations.

“It is worthy of note, that across all army barracks, there are deliberate efforts at providing conducive working and living conditions for troops and their families.

“These interventions in the form of massive barracks construction and renovation works with visible footprints, are bringing succour to NA personnel nationwide,” he said.

Nwachukwu urged Nigerians to interrogate the ulterior motives for which the online medium was so easily sucked in by the antics of ‘conflict merchants and agents provocateurs.

He said the medium was uncomfortable with the steadfastness, patriotism, unwavering commitment, sacrifice, ruggedness, and resoluteness of the Nigerian Army in stamping out terrorism, banditry and other violent crimes in Nigeria and across West Africa.

“Could it be that the online media is doing it for selfish gains to plunge the nation into chaos, which is worth interrogating by those who are interested in distinguishing between rogue journalism and professional one.

“Let it be known to those who concocted the lies that the gallant officers and soldiers of the NA are undeterred, undistracted and unfazed by the harebrained assertions contained in that mischievous report.

“The desperate effort by the authors of this unpatriotic report to denigrate the NA by giving ethno-religious, and nepotic coloration to the activities of the NA, is nothing but an inglorious attempt to woo unsuspecting members of the public with bigotry bargains, laced heavily with uncanny intent.

“It must be made inarguably clear that the NA remains a symbol of national unity and therefore cannot afford to be divided along ethno-religious lines.

“It must be asserted here that the NA under the current leadership has remained resolute in carrying out its constitutional role and will vigorously continue to implement welfare programmes for the benefit of all personnel.

“Troops deployed in ongoing operational engagements are putting in their best in defence of the nation and should be encouraged, rather than plotting disaffection amongst them.

“All personnel of the NA are urged to remain steadfast and unswayed by the antics of unpatriotic elements, who for selfish gains want to plunge the nation into chaos,” he added.

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