Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The Nigerian Army has warned against glorifying criminals and criminality, saying labelling the perpetrators of violent attacks in the northeast as Boko Haram or ISWAP will henceforth be viewed by its authority as encouraging terrorism.
Army spokesman, Col Sagir Musa while briefing journalists at the headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri on Friday after the meeting of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, said the army authority was concerned about increasing propaganda being given to “remnants of the erstwhile Boko Haram terrorists group” by some people.
“This worrisome development has further boosted the image of the criminal gang thus assuming larger than life status. He made the plea while visiting troops in the North East,” Musa stated. He said it was wrong for anyone to “eulogize or support murderers, bandits and armed robbers that the known Boko Haram terrorists group has turned into.”
He said referring to insurgents as Boko Haram Terrorists Group, JAS or ISWAP in Nigeria could amount to supporting or encouraging terrorism in the country. He descrbed the group as gang of criminals, murderers and armed robbers.
He said many Nigerians and media practitioners are not aware that giving prominence to the criminal activities of the terrorists group through sensational headlines and fake news could amount to “tacit support to terrorism.” He said such action violates the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 in Nigeria.
He urged Nigerians not to glorify the group but call them “criminals,” “rapists,” “kidnappers”, “armed robbers” and “murderers.”
“The Chief of Army Staff said that it is also important to note that the mode of operation of these elements, is pure criminality for personal gains,” he disclosed. He said the army’s concern was informed by the recent attacks by the insurgents in the northern part of Borno State.
He said the army chief has directed troops in the counter-insurgency operation to go after the insurgents wherever they hide. Buratai who arrived Maiduguri at noon, held close-door meeting with military commanders at the theatre.