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1 Oct 2019

Army Chief, Buratai, Under Fire For Saying Military Need Spiritual Power To Combat Insurgency

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said terrorism and terrorist groups could not be eliminated alone by the military unless religious bodies and organisations in the country come to the ‘forefront of the spiritual battle.’

The army chief noted that the focus must be religious groups addressing the ideologies which fuelled the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists activities.

Buratai stated these on Monday in Abuja at a spiritual warfare seminar at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, with the theme, ‘Countering insurgency and violent extremism in Nigeria through spiritual warfare.’

The army chief, who was represented by the Chief of Administration, Maj. Gen. Sani Yusuf, urged Islamic and Christian clerics to join the fight against terrorism and reorient the people against negative ideologies.

Buratai said, “It is easier to defeat Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists than their ideology because while we degrade the terrorists and their havens, the narrative of the ideology grows the group.

“Therefore, communities, families and groups should join in the fight and narratives to reject and prevent the ideologies of the terrorists and extremist groups.

“Religious bodies and organisations in particular, which interface regularly with the grass roots, should be in the forefront of this spiritual battle and fashion out ways of stepping up their roles.

“It is a well-known fact that terrorism and terrorist groups cannot be totally eliminated by mainly military actions. This means focusing our efforts on the underlying narratives through ideologies employed by these terrorists to lure innocent citizens into their fold.

“The need to defeat the ideologies of Boko Haram and ISWAP is based on the awareness that it is the ideologies that enhance their resources and help to recruit new fighters to their fold and as such, kill their ideology and the terrorist movement withers and dies.”

But the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, flayed Buratai for “recommending a fetish approach to prosecuting a physical war.”

Adeniran said Buratai’s statement was an admission that he no longer had anything to offer and should be replaced by the President.

He said, “I think that this Buratai of a soldier does not know his onions; he had made a couple of laughable recommendations in the past and all he is doing is like groping in the dark. He doesn’t seem to know the technicalities of prosecuting such a war by the sheer ignorance he has been displaying and the trial-and-error strategy that he is adopting has led to Nigeria losing many brilliant and agile soldiers who could have otherwise been very useful in prosecuting sensible wars. But because of the carelessness of the leaders, we have lost many of them; as well as the fact that several trillions of naira has been pumped into prosecuting that war.

“I will join the school of thought that has asked the President and the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces to waste no further time in looking for a more brilliant and technically-savvy warrior that can prosecute the war that is going on in the North-East; otherwise, we will be losing our future to carelessness and that will not do Nigeria any good.”

Also, Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Samson Ayokunle, urged Buhari to sack the army chief.

He said, “CAN has been consistently calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Commander-in-Chief, to overhaul the security system and replace the service chiefs.

“As far as we are concerned, the handling of the security challenges in the country has been everything, but satisfactory. We have also told the President to overhaul the National Security Council with a view to injecting new blood with a new vision and to address the lopsided appointments of the NSC.”

However, Ustaz Christian Okonkwo, the Director of Islamic Centre, Afikpo, an affiliate of the International Islamic Relief Organisation based in Saudi Arabia, said Buratai was right.

The former Director of Administration, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, said, “People get indoctrinated by the preaching and teaching of a set of religion or the other or by their attachment to their particular tribe or race. So, if we have to change the narrative, it just has to come from the same source to which these people have been indoctrinated because they have a very serious sentiment to that religion or ethnic group.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad lll-led Jam’atu Nasril Islam also backed the Chief of Army Staff.

The JNI’s Secretary – General, Dr. Abubakar Khalid-Aliyu, said, “My understanding is that the military chief has so many dimensions, including the military and spiritual dimensions, because they are based on religious ideology and this religious ideology has been the fuel. The terrorists need a superior religious ideology which teaches that life is sacrosanct and must be protected at all costs, and that taking a life as viewed by the Qur’an by injustice is like taking the whole human race. I think using higher ideology of Islam to compliment other aspect of it to fight the terrorists is apt.”

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