Army: It’s a militia training ground
RSG: It’s not true, you’re aware the boys are our internal security recruits
By Desmond Ejibas
The 6 Division of Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt says it has discovered an illegal militia training camp inside a Rivers community.
But the state government punctured the claim, saying it notified the Nigerian Army about it before it embarked on the training for its internal security employees.
Col. Aminu Iliyasu, spokesman of the division, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Port Harcourt that soldiers had taken over the camp.
He said the illegal camp was discovered by troops, who were on routine surveillance of the NYSC Orientation Camp in Nonwa Gbam, Tai Local Government Area of the state.
“The troops on routine surveillance discovered the illegal militia training camp in the area. We met over 100 recruits undergoing military type of training inside the camp,” he said.
Iliyasu said the trainees had been removed from the camp, adding that preliminary investigation had been launched with support of sister security agencies.
He said that manhunt was underway to apprehend operators and sponsors of the camp.
“Recall that similar militia training camps were discovered and disbanded in Benue and Taraba states earlier in the year.
“After the discovery, measures were promptly taken to forestall breach of security and safety of citizens,” he said.
But the state government in statement issued in Port Harcourt by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Emma Okah, described the actions of the army as an insult to the Government and People of Rivers State because it was unprovoked and unnecessary.
“We have every reason to believe that the action of the soldiers is politically-motivated.
“Rivers State Government has always accused the Federal Government of working against the security interest of Rivers State and the brazen sack of a legitimate exercise of screening applicants for recruitment to assist in the fight against insecurity in Rivers State is self-evident” Okah said.
Okah regretted that the Nigeria Army acted wrongly at a time when President Muhammad Buhari has clamoured for community policing methods to support over-stretched conventional security agencies as canvassed by him through the Vice President during the 2-Day Summit on National Security organised by the Senate of Nigeria in February, 2018
“By the illegal actions of the Army, the Rivers State Government is constrained to believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria does not mean well for Rivers state. It shows that there are different laws for different states in Nigeria” he said.
The statement further added that the Federal Government of Nigerian is involved in double standards on the issue of neighbourhood security outfits in Nigeria.
“On 13th November, 2018, Zamfara State Government inaugurated the Civil Joint Task Force who are armed. Their photograph is reported in the front page of Guardian Newspaper of 14th November, 2018.
“Lagos State has the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps; Kwara State has Operation Harmony and Kano State has Neighbourhood Watch (Vigilante Group).
“Other States like Imo, Enugu, Edo etc have security support agencies which are the equivalent of the Rivers State’s Agency.
“So where did Rivers State go wrong? Okah asked.
“Intetestingly, before carrying out the screening exercise, the Agency had written to the Nigerian Army and other relevant agencies asking for drill and physical training instructors, security etc but the Army ignored the request and never advised against it but preferred an ambush.
“The Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency is a body created by act of parliament to assist security agencies in local intelligence gathering and the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, etc, are represented in the Board of the Agency.
“Rivers State Government urges President Muhammad Buhari to call the Nigerian Army to order and avoid provoking the peace loving people of Rivers State.
“The nation has too many security challenges to contend with including the Boko Haram insurgency and incubating or courting another battle front will be against national interest.”