Some weeks ago, Theophilus Danjuma, a retired general and former Minister of Defence had called on non-Fulanis in crisis-torn areas of the middle-belt to arm and defend themselves.
This according to him is necessary because the military men deplored there to restore peace have been colluding with the Fulanis to murder them.
This incendiary remark from one of the most prominent men in the middle belt and certainly one of the richest Nigerians was rather unfortunate. An elder statesman turned rogue is never a pretty sight.
But Theophilus Danjuma is not just another rabble-rouser in the mold of Fani Kayode, Ayo Fayose or some other disgruntled member of the opposition still seething with rage for losing the 2015 presidential election.
When Danjuma speaks, he is taken seriously. This is why the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai instituted a panel to investigate the claims of the former defense minister.
The panel, made up of people and groups from various backgrounds and representing different segments of Nigeria, submitted its report a few days ago.
The verdict, as expected, exonerated the Nigeria Army of collusion in the killings that have been dogging the country in recent months. In effect, the panel said Theophilus Danjuma, a respected retired general, and a billionaire, lied.
In conflict situations like the one in the middle belt, everything is blurred. Loyalties and ties depend on who is calling the shots in the front line far away from where the operational decisions were made.
History has shown us time and time again that when it comes to the Nigerian army, the killing of ordinary citizens is something they do.
For instance, just recently, Nigeria News reported how some soldiers sent to keep the peace in Naka village, Gwer West LGA, Benue State, turned arsonists and started destroying homes of the helpless villagers.
The actual number of people that died in this mindless and violent orgy is not known till today. The soldiers claimed this was a reprisal for the killing of one soldier by some criminals in the village.
For the Nigerian army, burning down houses, businesses, and killing people is just reward for what happened to one soldier.
This is not even an isolated incident and it is even moderate compared to what happened in some other cases in the past.
When the same Theophilus Danjuma was defense minister, he superintended over one of the worst state-sanctioned massacres in the country since the return to democracy.
It was in 2001. Communal clashes had been ongoing between the Tivs in Benue State and the Jukuns of Taraba state. Basically, it was your regular clash about who owned want land in border communities between the two states.
In the last week of October of that year, the country woke up to the news that the Nigerian Army had massacred hundreds of men in several villages in Zaki-Biam and Logo LGAs of Benue State.
The massacre started in Gbeji village where soldier’s rounded up dozens of men, made them sit on the floor and executed them. They then proceeded to destroy the village.
The victims, for some reasons, were set on fire.
In the next two days, the army moved to 5 other villages killing people and destroying these villages.
According to the army, this was a punitive action for the murder of 19 soldiers by militias suspected to be from the Tiv ethnic group.
Here is the thing though. Theophilus Danjuma is a Jukun from Taraba State. It could be argued that he ordered his men, as defense minister, to help his Jukun kinsmen against the Tiv. Hence, the massacre.
So when Theophilus Danjuma claims soldiers are fighting alongside the Fulanis to kill his people, he knew exactly what he was talking about.
He was in the system before and was in charge of the army when soldiers were ordered to murder hundreds of Tiv people in Benue State. That massacre brought the conflict between the Jukuns and the Tiv to an end.
But it resulted in thousands of internally displaced Tiv people. Many of them resorted to petty and violent crimes in places like Abuja to be able to feed their displaced families.
Nobody was punished for that crime against the Tiv people. Nobody has ever been punished anytime the security forces kill with impunity.
The simple reason is this: the perpetrators were obeying their masters at the top of the army or political hierarchy. Because nobody ever gets punished when things like this happen, it is 100% guaranteed it would occur again.
What Buratai’s report had ensured is that nobody would be indicted or punished for the latest allegations against soldiers.
For Theophilus Danjuma, he now understands the real meaning of what goes around comes around; karma is a bitch; the chicken has come home to roost.
All he can do now is talk like the helpless families of the Tiv youths and so many innocent people killed by soldiers over the years.