Nigerian authorities will welcome constructive support from foreign partners in the fight against Boko Haram, but will still defend the sovereignty of the federation to the fullest. This was revealed by the Director of Information for the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major General Chris Olukolade.
Speaking in an interview on SaharaTV over the weekend, the forces’ spokesperson said Nigeria has a formidable armed forces capable of defending the country to the hilt and would spare no effort to do so.
“The Nigerian armed forces and security agencies are capable of handling the security situation in Nigeria. All we need is the understanding, the support of well-meaning people all over the world, and those who want to be partners should be partners indeed” he said.
He however was quick to add that Nigeria seems to be receiving a lot of undue and unfair attention from the foreign press and the international community. He said inasmuch as constructive criticism is welcome, the Nigerian Armed Forces is woefully misrepresented and their efforts not fully appreciated. He said the situation has led to all the gratuitous attention Nigeria is getting prompting suggestions of a multi-national intervention in the fight against the Islamist militants who continue to terrorize Nigerians. Major General Olukolade said this threatens the nation’s sovereignty and the armed forces are fully poised to guard against that.
“We are a sovereign nation… Indeed we are concerned for our sovereignty as a state and that we will defend at all cost” he said.
The comments were made just before the AU announced a 7500 strong intervention force to be sent to Nigeria to aid the military in combating Boko Haram.
In a related response, Major General Olukolade refuted reports in some foreign media suggesting that over 2000 people (and not 150 as reported by the armed forces) lost their lives in the Baga attacks. He said the foreign media has a penchant for misreporting on the Nigerian Armed forces and their gains in the conflict with the militants. In particular he responded to a report suggesting that Nigerian soldiers were buying their own uniforms. He clarified that this is not a peculiar practice and soldiers everywhere in the world are allowed to buy uniforms from designated outlets around the world.
He also reacted to claims of human rights abuse by the Nigerian armed forces, saying lawlessness in not condoned by the authorities and thus all allegations will be fully investigated. He however paid glowing tribute to the human rights record of his outfit.
“We have done everything to ensure that our human rights record is intact” he told SaharaTV’s Kwesi Baako.