The Nigerian Army on Monday warned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi and other “opinion merchants” in the country not to drag the force into disrepute with their utterances.
Gumi had during a recent meeting with bandits in forests across Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger States, alleged that non-Muslim soldiers were behind the killings in some communities in the North.
But in a statement issued by its Director of Public Relations, Mohammed Yerima, the Nigeria Army insisted that contrary to the cleric’s remarks it does not deploy troops along religious or ethnic lines.
The statement read: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video-clip showing the renowned and respected Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits,
“In the video clip, the Islamic scholar was seen telling the bandits that the soldiers involved in most attacks against them were non-Muslims. He further stated that they should be aware that soldiers are divided into Muslims and non-Muslims.
“While the Nigerian Army would not want to join issues with the respected Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, it is, however, important to restate that the Nigerian Army as national institution, does not deploy its troops along ethnic or religious lines.
“Therefore, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and other opinion merchants are please enjoined to exercise restraint not to drag the image and reputation of one of the most reliable national institutions to disrepute.
“The Nigerian Army remains the pride of the nation and has continually defended the territorial integrity of this great nation. Comments suggesting to mudslide the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army are not only inimical but tended towards creating bad blood amongst Nigerians.
“Furthermore, most operations conducted by the Nigerian Army were done in strict adherence to rules of engagement, code of conduct and respect for the fundamental human rights of the citizenry without any exception. It is, therefore, disturbing that an opinion leader would deliberately want to disparage the Nigerian Army to portray it in bad light.