General Danjuma’s road to Kigali

A video of General Danjuma has emerged in the last few days. He has been recorded saying a few concerning and controversial comments. In the absence of a clarification since the emergency of the video, I believe it is fair to take the retired General’s words at face value.

If you are yet to see the video, you can watch it using this this link

https://www.channelstv.com/2018/03/24/armed-forces-collude-with-those-behind-killings-says-t-y-danjuma/

I have also transcribed his words below:

“In this state and of course and in all the riverine states of Nigeria, we must resist, we must stop it, everyone of us must rise up. The armed forces are not neutral, they collude, they collude, they collude with the armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one” 

“The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State, must stop in all the states of Nigeria, otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play” 

“I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory, defend your state. You have nowhere else to go. You have no where else to go” 

“God bless our country”

I am not one of those who think the General is a monster. Neither is he a saint. General Obasanjo and many of the politicians revered by many idiots in Nigeria have done worse than General Danjuma although he is way up there too.

I also really don’t care that General Danjuma has an oil mineral license and is a billionaire. It is what the elites do everywhere. They share the commonwealth amongst themselves.

After reflecting on the General’s comments, I do not believe his speech is as clear-cut as everybody assumes.

He referenced defending Nigeria. So he clearly does not want a break up of Nigeria as someone who was on the front line during the civil war. Sorry to disappoint the IPOB / Biafra crowd.

He vehemently came for the Armed Forces as a collective but is he referencing all of them or just the Nigerian Army? He needs to clarify.

I do not think the Nigerian Armed Forces are choirboys. The media is filled with rumours of collision between the armed forces and illegal oil bunkerers and armed bandits. It is no surprise that Air Marshalls Badeh & Amosu are on trial. There is a reason why Tafa Balogun was convicted of criminal activities and there is a reason why Nigerians feel that elements of the Goodluck Jonathan government were funding and fuelling the Boko Haram insurgency for personal or group gain. That is the measure of the Nigerian Armed forces in the not too distant past.

But Nigerians are fair enough to realize the Armed Forces are not rotten 100% especially since 2015 when President Buhari has taken major steps to re – professionalize the Armed Forces.

If General Danjuma truly wanted to help everybody, he will provide the evidence of his allegations to the political powers that he helped install. A major insider like him, a big shareholder of Nigeria Plc. breaking the Espirit De Corps, the omerta is why there is a huge outcry on this matter.

I believe calling for the President to order General Danjuma’s arrest is premature. Review his statement again. He hasn’t explicitly told people to arm themselves although it is implied. Knowing his age and wisdom, I think he has couched his words so perfectly that nobody can convict him for inciting the public to bear arms in the court of law based on the words he uttered in that video.

Also in typical Nigerian fashion, we have ignored his reference to all states of Nigeria and also to the riverine states.   Some newspapers totally omit his reference to the Riverine States. Have people conveniently omitted this reference for party political and ethnic reasons?

The focus of the pro General Danjuma reaction is on the so-called Fulani Herdsmen and none of the murdering cultists in Rivers and Cross River States. I am sadly not surprised.

You can see from the video that the General was obviously very upset. But why now?

By all accounts, there is an historic context to the issues in the general’s home state. Reading the report in the link should make all humans weep for Nigeria. Self-defense in Taraba State is clearly not working. Why is the General advocating it for Nigeria? If writing this article makes me dizzy, despair and confused, imagine what it does to Munir Dan Ali and Audu Ogbe.

http://opendoorsanalytical.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Violent-Conflict-in-Taraba-State-2013-2015.pdf

Conflict in the area that is now Taraba State dates back to the 1860s when an Emir attacked Tivs for not converting to Islam.

While the study above evidences historical collaboration between the Jukuns (General Danjuma’s tribe) and the Tivs in pre independence Nigeria it also talks about divisions and historical violent conflict between both tribes dating back to 1976.

There were further violent clashes in 1990 and 1991 between both tribes and also in 1998, 1999, and 2001.

There were additional statewide violent clashes that the study concludes is religious in nature from 2013 to the pre election period in 2015. These clashes appear to be ongoing based on the intermittent media reports emanating from that area.

Although the study above concludes that the violent clashes are of a religious nature, I wonder if this is coincidental. In that part of the world, the herdsmen are inevitably Hausa and Muslims while the farmers are inevitably Christians. The fact that General Danjuma referenced ethnic cleansing suggests this is an ethnic conflict rather than a religious one.

On of the issue of Tivs v Jukun clashes. Nigerians will remember what has now been termed the Zaki Biam massacre when the Nigerian military attacked Zaki Biam town in retaliation for the murder of 19 soldiers. You can read the link below to refresh your memory.

http://www.irinnews.org/feature/2001/10/24/focus-central-region-tiv-jukun-clashes

Governor Akume of Benue state estimated that over 500 people lost their lives in the hands of the military. The home of a former Chief of Army Staff was targeted and he lost 3 or 4 of his relatives.

From the link above, it appears Tivs believed the Nigerian military was taking sides. Very similar to what General Danjuma is alleging in his recent comments.

When he was interviewed after Zaki Biam, General Danjuma who was then the Minister of Defense told The News magazine that he had no role in the military operation. He stated: “I don’t command the soldiers, but I do know that soldiers obey the rules of engagement. You send them out; you tell them what you expect. […] You don’t shoot except in self – defence, when and if you shoot, you should shoot to kill […] If they acted outside their brief, that is a different question and it is a question only the Chief of Army Staff can answer.” With regard to the broader conflict, he denied using his position as minister of defense to manipulate the conflict against the Tiv, but accused the Tiv of having “expansionist tendencies” and of blaming him “as an individual in order to divert attention from themselves.”

I wonder if the General has changed his views against the Tivs. People have long memory? Are the recent Benue killings down to herdsmen?

Today, the shoe is on the other foot and the General is now accusing the armed forces of aiding and abetting the opponents of his people. Considering his role as Minister of Defence and his response above, he clearly will know if the armed forces are for hire.

The fact that attacks have been going on for years in Taraba State is in the public domain. The study quoted above which documents the killing of Christians between 2013 and pre elections in 2015 is staggering. The recent reports of large-scale attacks on Muslims in the Mambilla area are also well documented. The cycle of tit for tat attacks appear to date back to pre – independence Nigeria. Defending yourself is clearly not working General.

So what caused the General’s outburst over the weekend? Legend has it that Taraba State is largely General Danjuma’s fiefdom. Everything and anything happens only with his blessing. If therefore the Nigerian Army is claiming that the “Taraba State Government, did not cooperate with the Nigerian Army due to the Army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen-farmers crisis”, I put that squarely on General Danjuma. Please see the Army’s statement below

http://www.army.mil.ng/nigerian-army-press-statement-on-the-alledged-military-collusion-with-militiascriminals-made-by-former-chief-of-army-staff/

Did the General ask the Taraba State Government not to cooperate?

Less than 24 hours after its first statement, the Nigerian Army issued another statement confirming the arrest of a few individuals. You can see the second statement in the link below. Although General Danjuma made his comments on Saturday, were there signs already on the wall that the conflict in Taraba could be linked back to him?

http://www.army.mil.ng/ayem-akpatuma-troops-arrests-suspected-criminals/

A well-known Nigerian Journalist tweeted the below in the aftermath of the General’s comments. This is further evidence of people’s long memory and the scary future we are all stoking.

https://twitter.com/KadariaAhmed/status/977839850002026496

This is proof that maybe the Somalia, which General Danjuma has now referenced twice in his public comments, will be child’s play.

Please see the below link for his previous reference to Somalia.

http://nigeriaworld.com/feature/publication/babsajayi/050512.html

From the Internet, it appears the Somalia Civil War has resulted in the death of over 500,000 people since the conflict that started in 1991. It is still ongoing today with no permanent resolution in sight.

The Rwanda genocide was worse. The loss of lives is estimated at a million people in less than 100 days.

If that is the destination General Danjuma wants to lead us to, I hope him, his wife and kids will be in the forefront bearing arms. We don’t want armchair generals.

As for those, hailing the General, those delighted with his emotional outburst. When friends of many years start to kill each other on an unprecedented scale, when tens of millions of Nigerians become refugees in Benin, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Sudan. When our desperate need for refugee tents, aid, water, vaccines and food becomes the global news headline, I hope we look back and remember when we cheered General Danjuma for recommending that we bear arms and defend ourselves.

Governments everywhere and their agents have the monopoly of the use of force. It is constitutional. If they misuse their powers and others pick up arms, that is not constitutional it is natural especially if it is self-defence but there lies chaos. There lies The Road to Kigali.

Baba Grumpy works in financial services in the United Kingdom. He blogs mostly about football at http://babagrumpy.blogspot.co.uk. His Twitter handle is @BabaGrumpy