The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has said that fake news on social media and politicization of security issues by some influential persons in the country are some of the factors demoralizing troops fighting terrorism in the North east.
Speaking during an interview in Maiduguri Borno state after visiting the locations of the Armed Forces Special Forces and the Army Headquarters Strike Force, the army chief said a situation whereby influential people in the country politicize re-echoed fake and terrorists propaganda perpetrated in the social media, is not only
dampening the fighting spirits of the troops in the frontlines, but also inimical to overall national security.
Buratai’s comment is coming against the backdrop of the recent Boko Haram attack of a military base in Metele in Northern Borno state, which the media came out with different figures ranging from 44, 100 and 170 casualties.
But the army chief challenged the figure, saying that from November 18 when the unfortunate incident occurred up to the time the casualties where evacuated by the military, no other person had visited the location to know the figures, expressing surprise on the different figures in the media.
The army chief said: “So many figures have been bandied around that we are the victims from the Metele unfortunate incident, but this is far from what the figures revealed. The figure so far is 23, but even if it is one casualty it is unfortunate. But to go out of the reality and continue to spread false information, fake news. It is highly
unfortunate, and it is inimical to national security. It is inimical to the moral of the troops, and by and large it is one of the demoralizing factors that will make the counterinsurgency more difficult.
“Nigerians should know that terrorism is something strives and carry on with more propaganda. That is how the terrorists gets attention and spread their ideologies, and instills fear among the people. It also spread the notion that they are untouchable or invisible and portrays capacity they don’t have. They continue to give the impression that
they have more than what they have.
“Therefore Nigerians must be very careful not to fall into their antics by condemning their actions and propaganda in order to support the efforts of the Nigerian military, especially the Nigerian Army that is on the ground and usually bears the consequences of such negative propaganda.”
He said although the military had suffered some setbacks in recent times, it isn’t what should be celebrated by Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation and status, adding that the armed forces of the country expect support and encouragement from the country in order to totally defeat terrorism and surmount other security challenges in the country.
“We have been seen a few attacks but by and large this will never diminish what we have achieved. We rather go further and we have resolved to see that we get the security situation here in the North east firmly in control by the troops,” Buratai said.
On the $1 billion, the army chief said contrary to reports and speculations from different quarters about the $1 billion approved by the Nigerian Governors to prosecute insecurity and purchase of equipment to aid the fight against terrorism, the money is yet to be released to the military.
The Nigerian Governors approved the $1 billion from Excess Crude Account in December 14, 2017, during National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
Buratai said: “The media has been of the $1 billion dollars that was approved but up till today the fund that is supposed to come from that money to the Nigerian Army, in particular, is still at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The Ministry of Defence that is working on it is yet to assess the fund. It is therefore not true, as it is being reported, that the fund is with the military or the army in particular. So when the Ministry of Defence gets the fund it will get the right equipment of us.”