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Garba Shehu

The Nigerian presidency has lambasted Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff.

In a statement on Thursday, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, declared that Danjuma is not “a natural source of pressure for good governance”.

His comment was in reaction to the letter by UK lawmakers to the Commonwealth on the killings in Nigeria.

The legislators disclosed that they met and spoke to Danjuma who told them that the country’s Armed Forces “are not neutral”, and that they “collude in ethnic cleansing”.

Without mentioning the former General’s name, Shehu said during religious and ethnic riots in two states in 2001 and 2002, Nigerians “were violently and ruthlessly put down by the military under his authority”.

This, he noted, caused the deaths “of thousands of lives and the displacement of some further 50,000 persons.”

Shehu wrote: “It is important to stress to our partners and colleagues in the United Kingdom that not all who press them have the best interests of either democratic governance or peaceful coexistence in mind. For example, the former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, named and quoted in the letter as a source on military matters, relinquished that position some 40 years ago – in 1979.

“He was last in a government position 17 years ago in 2003 (as Minister of Defence). At that time, religious and ethnic riots erupted in two states of the federation, (2001 and 2002), these were violently and ruthlessly put down by the military under his authority, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of some further 50,000 persons. He is, therefore, not a natural source of pressure for good governance.”

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Shehu also accused the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of embarking on a global campaign against Nigeria.

“Another, signatory to the letter, is well-known to be associated with the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a Nigerian-blacklisted terrorist group. The IPOB is running a well-known (source-of-financing-unknown) international campaign intended to damage the reputation of Nigeria and its government in order to further their cause of “independence”. He jumped bail in Nigeria. He frequently travels on a Nigerian passport but urged his supporters to burn their passports!

“The IPOB barely mention their aims in their publicity; neither do they mention that their own leadership do not claim to be Christian. Yet, their media and lobbying campaign has focused near-exclusively on promoting matters related to Christianity in Nigeria, promulgating false claims that a government with 50 per cent of its cabinet and 50 per cent of its State Governors who are Christian somehow works against Christians”, Shehu added.

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