Carrying blank, live ammunition part of our table of equipment for internal security operations, Nigerian Army clears critics’ doubts

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By BASHIR ADEFAKA

 

“The blank ammunition was fired into the sky and not at the protesters. The results are all glaring as there was no fatality recorded – this has been corroborated by both BBC report and other reputable news media outfits.”

 

The Nigerian Army has reacted to insinuations going the round to imply that its troops contradicted its evidence of firing blank ammunition when it also carried live ammunition for International Security Operations on the 20 October 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, South West Nigeria.

This reaction came via a statement with reference 81DIV/APR/G6/230/5/1, issued by Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi, copy of which was obtained by The DEFENDER on Sunday.

According to the statement titled, “Re: Cross Examination of Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo on Blank and Live Ammunition by Troops of 81 Division Nigerian Army”, Major Olaniyi said it tallied with no commonsense to insinuate that the professional troops of the Nigerian Army would have acted outside the rules of engagement when it comes to the use of ammunition for Internal Security Operations.

Lawyers to protesters and Lagos State Government had cross-examined Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, Commander, 81 Military Intelligence Victoria Island, when he appeared before the Lagos State judicial panel on #ENDSARS incident for the second time on Saturday November 20 and he said his troops, deployed to quell activities of the hoodlums-filled protests in particularly Lekki area of the state, went there with both blank and live ammunitions but insisted that there was no need or reason to use live bullets and they were not shot.

However, some media outfits (The DEFENDER excluded) in reporting the responses of the General, are believed to have twisted those responses to imply that live bullets were shot at protesters since they were also carried along with blank bullets. But the bottomline, according to the statement, still remains that there was no single live bullet shot and the blank bullets shot were into the sky, thus no life was lost as a result of the shooting that was part of the constitutional responsibility of the Army, to stop chaotic situation where the police was overrun as it happened during the #ENDSARS protests.

The 81 Division’s spokesman, Major Osoba Olaniyi, said:
“We hereby state unequivocally that carrying both blank and live ammunition is part of our Table of Equipment for Internal Security Operations. It is part of the Rules of Engagement for soldiers on Internal Security operations to carry both live and blank ammunition. The use of any of these ammunition as stated in our Rules of Engagement depends on the level of threat at the operational area.

“Please note that one of the principles of internal security operations is the use of minimum Force. Minimum Force in itself is a function of the assessment of the Commander on the ground. In this circumstance in The Lekki Toll Gate, the Commander on the ground assessed that there was no need to use live ammunition that was why only blank ammunition was used at the Lekki Toll Gate.

“The blank ammunition was fired into the sky and not at the protesters. The results are all glaring as there was no fatality recorded – this has been corroborated by both BBC report and other reputable news media outfits.

“The use of blank ammunition/minimum force achieved the aim of dispersing the hoodlums and crowd. It is pertinent to reiterate that the Nigerian Army is a law-abiding institution that acts in tandem with her Rules of Engagement. We therefore wish to advise all stakeholders to guard against being used by local and foreign agents of destabilization who do not wish this country any good,” Major Olaniyi said.


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