- The service said the protesters had blocked the major roads to express their grievances against the verdict of the Court of Appeal on the governorship election in the state.
- He noted that despite dispersing the protesters professionally, they accused the soldiers of ramming into them.
The Nigerian Army has strongly condemned the “unprovoked attack on troops and patrol vehicles in a recent protest that occurred along Lafia-Makurdi Road in Nasarawa State”.
During the protest, protesters blocked the major highway in response to the outcome of the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the gubernatorial election in the state.
A statement by Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations said, “We express our utmost concern and disappointment at the actions of the protesters, who resorted to blocking the major highway, causing tortuous traffic gridlock to motorists and attacking troops’ patrol vehicles.
“Sadly, this same set of protesters who attacked patrol vehicles conveying troops on legitimate duty, have turned around to spuriously allege that troops’ convoy rammed into the protesters.
“It is on record from available video footage and visual images of the protest, that troops conducted the crowd dispersal professionally by ensuring the safety of citizens and protecting public infrastructure.
“Suffice to state that the Nigerian Army recognizes and respects the rights of citizens to express their grievances through peaceful protests.
“However, it is pertinent to emphasize that such protests must be conducted within the confines of the law, ensuring the safety and security of all parties involved.
“The resort to violence, destruction of public property, and assault on security personnel is unacceptable and goes against the principles of peaceful protest.
“Our troops were deployed to maintain law and order, ensure the safety of all citizens, including the protesters and public infrastructure.
“They were operating under strict rules of engagement with the primary objective of preventing further escalation of violence and maintaining peace.
“The action of the protesters in pelting stones at troops and attacking patrol vehicles not only endangered the lives of our personnel but also undermined the peaceful nature of the protest.
“The Nigerian Army urges all individuals and groups involved in protests to exercise restraint and engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue.
“Resorting to violence only exacerbates the situation and hampers progress towards resolving any grievances.
“We call on community and religious leaders as well as other stakeholders to play their part in promoting peace and harmony in their communities.
“We assure the public that the Nigerian Army remains apolitical and committed to the protection and safety of all citizens.
“We will continue to work closely with other security agencies to ensure the safety and security of the people of Nasarawa State and the nation as a whole. We will not tolerate any form of violence.
“We also entreat the media and the public to exercise caution in reporting and disseminating information by ensuring accuracy and fairness. Let us work together to build a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.”