The Federal Government and former President Goodluck Jonathan have disagreed on the planned military operation in the South-South and the South-West codenamed Operation Crocodile Smile.
Jonathan, who spoke on Tuesday, believed it was an anomaly for soldiers to be deployed for internal security, a responsibility that is meant for the police, saying the deployment of troops internally was to intimidate the citizens.
But the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, countered the former President, arguing that under the past administration, headed by Jonathan, soldiers were deployed in Onitsha, where 16 persons were reportedly killed.
Jonathan criticised his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, for planning to extend the military show of force to the South-South and the South-West.
Jonathan said this in a Facebook post on Tuesday which was signed on his behalf by his aide, Reno Omokri.
Jonathan stated, “However, we want to advise the Buhari administration, which has announced plans to extend the military show of force to the South-South and the South-West through Operation Crocodile Smile, to thread with caution.
“Nigeria is no longer under military rule. In a democracy, you separate the military from the police. The military is not meant to fight criminality within a nation because they are trained to fight a nation’s external enemies.
“It is the police that are trained to fight crime internally. When the military starts doing the job of the police and starts fighting or doing what they call a ‘show of force’, the effect will not be to reduce crime. The effect will be to intimidate people.”
Jonathan also lambasted the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for saying the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra started because of the change of administration in 2015.
Mohammed had said looters and disgruntled elements in the opposition were the chief sponsors of IPOB.
The ex-President said, “The insinuations in the press conference given by Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday, accusing the opposition of sponsoring the IPOB and the fact that he mentioned that Nnamdi Kanu preached Nigerian unity during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan is another clear indication that the present administration has not left propaganda mode for proper agenda mode two and a half years into its tenure.
“If the government, in which Lai Mohammed serves, knows which opposition members are sponsoring IPOB, then it should identify them, arrest them and then prosecute them.”
Jonathan wondered if Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress, could be said to be a sponsor of IPOB since he had come out to say the proscription of the group was illegal.
While commending the South-East governors for their efforts in restoring peace, Jonathan said Mohammed had no moral right to cast aspersions as the minister had once criticised him for declaring Boko Haram a terrorist group.
He added, “It is our suspicion that Lai Mohammed is talking from history seeing as he criticised the Jonathan government for banning Boko Haram in a statement he released on June 10, 2013, even though the Jonathan government had gone through due process before proscribing that murderous sect.”
However, Mohammed berated Jonathan for criticising the planned deployment of soldiers in the South-West and South-South as part of a military operation code-named ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’.
Mohammed stated on Monday that Jonathan lacked the moral right to criticise the deployment of soldiers having done so many times during his five-year administration.
The minister said in June 2012, Jonathan deployed soldiers, policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services in Onitsha, Anambra State, which led to the death of 16 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
He said during the deadly raid, 83 MASSOB members were injured while 500 others, including women, were arrested.
Mohammed added, “Ordinarily, I would not want to take issue with the former President but ask him who he deployed in Onitsha in June of 2012 if not soldiers, men of the DSS and policemen. At the end of that deadly raid, 16 MASSOB members were killed while 83 were injured.
“More than 500 others including women were arrested. The information is available on the Internet. A simple Google search will bring out the information.”
He said he never accused Jonathan of sponsoring IPOB, but merely stated that the activities of IPOB were not as pronounced during the Jonathan era.
“Is it not a fact that under President Jonathan, Kanu led a demonstration in London promoting the peace and unity of Nigeria? Isn’t the video all over the Internet?” the minister asked.”