The Nigerian Army said it has launched an investigation into an alleged coup plot, even as it dismissed the claim as baseless and most unfortunate. A militant group had alleged in a statement Wednesday that some officers were planning to topple President Muhammadu Buhari government.
The Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF), said in the statement titled “Military coup imminent in Nigeria, Buhari be wary of them” that some military men are planning to remove the president from power by instigating civil unrest in the country.
They said “some top military men” through their civil agents had approached them to continue to vandalise oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta so as to use as an excuse to take over the government.
However, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said in a statement yesterday that the army had begun investigation into the allegation as well as the JNDLF that made it.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to another campaign of calumny and distraction by facelesscriminal gang of economic saboteurs that hide under the aegis of Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF) alleging that some officers of the Nigerian Army approached them for support to overthrow our duly elected present democratic government.
“This is baseless and most unfortunate allegation that existed in the warped minds of the originators of such weighty allegation.
‘‘The Nigerian Army wishes to state that this is not true and hereby distances itself from this weighty allegation.
“We also see this speculation as a dangerous distraction to our effort in fighting insurgency and other criminal elements in the country.
“The Nigerian Army is investigating those behind the dangerous insinuation in order to unravel the real motive behind it.
“The Nigerian Army will like to send a strong and an unequivocal warning to those speculating a coup by the Nigerian Army against the government to desist forthwith.
‘‘We will like to state in clear terms that we are a product of democracy and a focused professional institution and will have nothing to do with such abomination and heinous crime.
“The army is the greatest beneficiary of democracy and therefore cannot ever contemplate any anti-democratic misadventure, certainly not under the command of the present Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
“Rather, we see this type of dangerous speculation as a declaration of war to destabilise the present government by these unscrupulous elements.
“We will like to reiterate our unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and defense of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘‘We will also like to reaffirm our unconditional support and obedience to civil authority.
“We wish to further assure Nigerians and, indeed, all peace loving people that the Nigerian Army and indeed its personnel will never be involved in such terrible misadventure.
“We wish to further add that no matter how long it takes, we will track and find out those behind these insinuations and bring them to justice.”
We rejected request
The JNDLF said it rejected the request from the army officers because “such plan will not work and not in conformity with our genuine desire of agitation.”
They said “the issue of Niger Delta is political and we prefer political solution to resolve it. We strongly advise the President to look and take holistic approach to solve the Niger
Delta problem since some military men want to use various agitation in the country.
The group said their callers told them that they resent the president’s probing of the military which they said exposed them to disrepute and ridicule before the civilian populace.
“We received several caller unknown to persuade us to continue the bombing and that when it succeeds in overthrowing the government we will be place on a better position, we said capital NO!”
“They refused to disclose their names but their intonations seem like Yoruba and Hausa.
“Our agitation is not for selfish interest but for the overall benefit of the Niger Delta region.
“We’ll not kidnap any person, kill or hostage taking of any expatriate in the country but will continue our agitation with clear determination to actualize our course in Nigeria.”
Retirement, corruption investigation
Reports of the coup plot is coming in the wake of recent compulsory retirement of about 38 senior army officers and ongoing probe over misappropriation of public funds in the military, Daily Trust reports.
It was learnt that apart from the dismissed officers, who were asked to go on compulsory retirement other officers implicated in corrupt practices may face military court martial and end up in prison.
The Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) said coups are no longer fashionable all over the world and called on Nigerians to disregard talks of a coup plot.
The Executive Secretary of the Centre, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd) in an interview with Daily Trust yesterday, said: “The public should not give it any serious attention, and indeed Nigerians should under all circumstances resist any attempt by any group of individuals or soldiers that will want to truncate our democracy, that has been gaining stability for the last nineteen years or twenty.”