A group, Stand Up for Nigeria (SUN) has condemned increased attacks on military personnel in recent times, saying Nigerians must be in unison in condemning the attacks in the strongest terms possible.
In a statement signed by its Country Director, Sunday Attah, SUN recalled that 11 soldiers were confirmed killed by persons now identified as gunrunners in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages of Bosso Local Government Area, Niger State.
The statement reads further, “Both instances mark an escalation of attacks targeting military personnel in the course of their legitimate duty to fatherland.
“The incidences were also linked with the quest by criminal elements to build up intimidating arsenal: the killers in Niger state were protecting their cache of weapons while the so called sea bandits in Bayelsa reportedly made away with a gunboat belonging to the military and two K2 rifles.
“There have been previous attacks on the military in the past including killings linked to politicians desperate to rig elections.
“We see these attacks by criminal elements in the society as deliberate attempts to not only test the strength of our security personnel but also ostensibly as a means of testing the waters for a more sinister objective.
“Our position it that just as the lives of those the military personnel protect are important so also are their own lives to their families.
“Nigerians must therefore be in unison in condemning the attacks on the Army in the strongest terms possible. We must also go a step further by providing information that will help security agencies in tracking down these criminals even before they commit crimes.
“We further condemn as associated trend where elites, politicians or ethnic leaders try to cover for criminals by falsely claiming the military attacked civilians. In our thinking, people who could kill 11 soldiers in a single attack are no longer civilians while those who provide cover and logistics to such killer groups are as involved as the murderers.
“A situation where the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, David Umoru politicized the killing in Niger state is a disservice to the country as any political gain from playing to the gallery would be short lived and could potentially come to haunt the state.
“Senator Umoru should have explored how to support the military in ridding his district of criminals that were stockpiling arms instead of trying to cover the connection his constituents have with the recovered weapon caches, which have been described as capable of destabilizing neighboring states.
“We commend those that have spoken out against these growing attacks against the military. We offer our condolences to the Armed Forces and the families of those killed even as we urge the military not to allow the recent attacks diminish their resolve to deal with Nigeria’s internal and external security challenges.’