The Nigerian Army has tagged as “fake news” a report that Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai directed soldiers to treat every Nigerian in the Northeast like a Boko Haram suspect.
Quoting an internal army memo, Peoples Gazette reported that the COAS bemoaned a slack in personnel performance of troops involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast, saying it has prolonged the war.
The memo dated November 20, 2020 and titled, “COAS Special Order-01 Change to War Mode” reportedly quoted the army chief as directing troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, the military operation against Boko Haram, to treat all persons like suspects.
“All persons must be treated as suspects unless fully identified and cleared especially in isolated, high threat areas, when on clearance operations and checkpoint duties.
“We are not in peacekeeping operations, internal security operations or deterrence actions.
“This is real war fighting,” the memo reportedly read.
The report also quoted the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Farouq Yahaya as directing soldiers to “quickly identify” and “immediately neutralise” all confirmed terrorist elements.
Some activists quoted in the report expressed worry that soldiers could hide under the directives from the army top brass to commit human rights violations.
However, the Nigerian Army described the news report as “fake news” in a Sunday morning post on its Twitter handle.
See Nigerian Army tweet:
Fake News!!! pic.twitter.com/2yPglKPL0b
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) November 21, 2020
In October, the Nigerian Army tagged as “fake news” reports that soldiers were at the Lekki Toll Gate when peaceful #EndSARS protesters were shot.
The Army later admitted that soldiers were at the scene.