The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, and the Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Rights, AFRIRIGHTS have alerted Nigerians to a well-coordinated plot by some forces opposed to the counter terrorism war in the North-East to plant sponsored but false newspaper stories aimed at damaging the character of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The rights groups claimed that, “ a mole within and without the military establishment have concluded plans to sponsor soft tissues of lies alleging violations of the assets declaration made by the Army Chief with specific reference to an offshore housing assets in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.”
A press statement signed jointly by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko for HURIWA and Esther Orok for AFRIRIGHTS asserts that the enviable accomplishments of Buratai are some of the reasons the faceless detractors want to drag his name into the mud.
They warned that any campaign of calumny against the COAS will not just be a personal attack on him as a person, or the Nigerian Army, but is an insult and assault on the collective sensibilities of Nigerians, stressing that it is tantamount to distracting him and the Army he leads from clearing the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists.
According to the statement, “Just recently, some faceless individuals under the aegis of concerned citizens tried to drag the good name and reputation of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai into the fray of the ignoble arms procurement deal. That effort fell flat on the face of the perpetrators. Typically, hell bent in destroying the General, they came up with another condemnable smear campaign. They again embark on another round of smear campaign, alleging that he has investments outside the country.
“Being concerned about the conduct of public officers and the need for propriety, our organization took it upon itself to investigate this allegation just like several others, and found out that they are untrue. For the avoidance of doubt the said investment was legitimately cumulated over long period of time and was declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau on his assumption of duty as Chief of Army Staff in July 2015. The records are there at the Bureau for all those interested to check.
“General Buratai has nothing to hide and leads by personal example which he encourage his subordinates to emulate. He was the first military service chief to declare his assets and asked all officers to do so. This is unprecedented and has no doubt gave credence to the government’s anti-corruption crusade.
“As a matter of fact, the Nigerian Army has for a long time never had a wonderful, visionary and exemplary leadership like what we are witnessing now. The welfare of troops has been enhanced. They now have uniforms and boots and other equipment, while training is being intensified. What is more appealing is the improved civil-military relations and respect for human rights.”
The groups, while warning those behind the smear campaigns to refrain from their plan as it will not portend any good to the society and them, stressed that, “Instead of distracting the Chief of Army Staff, we should support and encourage him and the Nigerian Army as they continue to serve the nation better.”