Stop Smear Campaigns Against Buratai – Activists Warn

From Fred Itua, Abuja

A civil society group, The Society for Good Governance, claims, contrary to accusations against Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Benin Republic, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (Rtd), that he ran the Nigerian military like a “personal domain” while in charge as Army Chief of Staff, he built accountability into the force, particularly in the area of ​​providing information on expenditures relating to military operations across the country.

At a press conference addressed by its executive director, Dr Gabriel Aser, in Abuja, the group said the “smear campaign” against Buratai was sponsored by “unscrupulous elements” in an effort to tarnish the image and the excellent service record of the former army. chief.

The Society for Good Governance pointed out that the Nigerian military recorded a huge victory against insurgency and terrorism under Buratai’s watch, especially in the North East region where the terrorist group Boko Haram controlled nearly 16 local government areas prior to his appointment as Army Chief of Staff.

He said that under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, all local government areas in northeastern Nigeria hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram insurgent group were taken over by the Nigerian military.

The group also pointed out that under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratia, the Nigerian Army compelled a joint access to information request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE) and BudgIT asking him to provide information on spending on military operations across the country, particularly in the North East.

The text reads as follows: “Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you to this press conference convened to put issues into perspective with regard to Ambassador Tukur Buratai’s excellent record of service while he was at the head of the affairs of the prestigious Nigerian army.

It is common knowledge that prior to the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai as Army Chief of Staff in 2015, the country was experiencing an unprecedented level of insecurity, particularly in the northeast. of Nigeria, with the nefarious activities of the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram. .

“We all witnessed the terrorist group Boko Haram controlling nearly 16 local government areas in the North East region. The Nigerian military at the time seemed overwhelmed by the enormity of security challenges that nearly brought the country to its knees.

“It must also be admitted that at the time, nowhere in Nigeria was considered safe, as evidenced by the many audacious attacks on state infrastructure, public places and places of worship. It was also a period when the morale of the Nigerian army troops was at an all time low, occasioned by a lack of motivation and proper combat equipment.

“Thus, it is instructive to mention that upon taking office as Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai kicked off with strategies that paid off in record time. His passion and commitment to turning the tide against the terrorist group Boko Haram has been exceptional and has received worldwide praise.

“In less than a year, the Nigerian military led by Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai gained the upper hand over the Boko Haram insurgent group, where Sambisa Forest, then the operational headquarters of the Boko Haram group, was captured by Nigerian officers and soldiers. Army.

“It is also recorded that under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, all local government areas in northeastern Nigeria hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram insurgent group were taken over by the Nigerian army with Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai at the forefront of the onslaught against terrorists and other criminal gangs in North East Nigeria and other parts of the country.

“We would like to state that one of the indicators of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai’s exemplary conduct was the awarding of the Brazilian Military Order of Merit award, which is the highest military honor given to military officers who have distinguished in various military endeavors.It is indeed among many other awards for outstanding acts of bravery in the service of country and humanity.

“The Society for Good Governance wishes to remind the generality of Nigerians that under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratia, the Nigerian Army compelled a joint request for access to information by the Rights and Accountability Project Socio-Economic (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT asking him to provide information on spending on military operations across the country, particularly in the Northeast.

“In response, civil society groups indeed commended Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai’s transparency and accountability thus: “As we verify the compliance of the information provided, we welcome Mr. Buratai’s demonstrated commitment to the Freedom of Information Act by responding to our request. ”

He further said that “The National Assembly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ministries, Agencies and Departments should also learn from the good example set by Mr. Buratai in honoring and responding to the demands of access to information of Nigerians, NGOs and others if they are ever contributing to the efforts to achieve a greater level of transparency and accountability in Nigeria.

“It is therefore the considered opinion of the Society for Good Governance that the recent rant targeting Ambassador Tukur Buratai (Lt. Gen Rtd) is the work of certain unscrupulous elements bent on tarnishing his hard-earned reputation and states. of meritorious service while he held influence as Army Chief of Staff.

“We are compelled to add that this despicable campaign comes from those who are afraid of the recent calls by well-meaning Nigerians for Ambassador Tukur Buratai to stand in the presidential elections of 2023.

“We indeed find it disturbing that such a despicable campaign of slander could target a man who has sacrificed so much to bring peace to North East Nigeria. considerable improvement in well-being and operational capacity to deal with the multitude of security problems in the country.

It is also in the wake that under the tenure of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Nigerian Army’s contributions to internal security operations have been remarkable as it is common knowledge that under Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Nigerian military has shown ingenuity in conducting several internal security operations alongside the continuation of the war on terrorism in northeastern Nigeria.

“It is therefore a statement that Ambassador Tukur Buratai has demonstrated an unfailing level of transparency and accountability in his handling of the Nigerian military. Any attempt to tarnish his reputation for political reasons would be met with the resistance from relevant stakeholders in Nigeria.

“The Society for Good Governance believes that people like Ambassador Tukur Buratai should receive national honors for their exemplary leadership in the service of the country. Those behind this despicable smear campaign should think twice and retrace their steps.

“This is in the wake of the fact that since the call for his participation in the presidential elections of 2023, it is common knowledge that Ambassador Tukur Buratai has not made any statement or commitment in this regard.

“So it remains a figment of the imagination of those behind the smear campaign that Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai ruled the Nigerian military as a personal estate. One word is indeed enough for the wise.

Thank you for your time and attention.”

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