Former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), has cautioned the media on false reports on happenings in the war against Boko Haram insurgency.
Akinrinade gave the advice at the 81 Division West African Social Activities (WASA), at 65 Battalion parade ground, warning that, “the exaggerated and sometimes entirely fabricated falsehood on the social media and the possible repercussion on the morale of our troops are incalculable.”
He urged the military to persuade the media to go to the front lines, to have first-hand information, pointing out that, “the media can be persuaded to have some of their experienced field operators to be attached to some of the forward headquarters.”
The former army chief said this was necessary to enable such capable hands in the media “to bring us authentic information as to happenings on the front-lines, to reduce the mischief that is pervasive on the social media.”
He commended the entire armed forces for their exploits in the past few troubled times, particularly in West Africa, where the flag was hoisted with pride and valour.
“I salute you all for the efforts you have exerted.
“I believe I speak for all our citizens when I say we recognise and lament the irreparable losses in both military and civilian lives and property. That has been the hallmark of our lives in the past few years.
“Our hearts go out, especially during this festive season, to our men and women on Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
“I know the feeling, having spent three consecutive Yuletides in the swamps, mangrove and creeks of our country and the disparities then were not as stark as today.”
Earlier, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Musa Yusuf, in his opening remarks, said that WASA was aimed at celebrating the end of a successful operational year.
He said: “It is in keeping with this age-long tradition that we are here gathered today to witness yet another WASA.
“There is no doubt that 2018 was characterised by numerous security challenges, such as insurgency, farmers/herders clash, kidnappings, armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and other criminalities.
“To overcome these challenges, the division requires a high degree of professionalism by personnel which is achieved through realistic training.
“In this direction, 81 Division has conducted and implemented all training activities consistent with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and in line with the Nigerian Army Training Directives.”
He said the division would redouble it efforts toward ensuring that troops were adequately given mission and specific training.
The GOC said this was necessary, especially in anticipation of likely tasks the Division would be expected to carry out in the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
“I, therefore, urge all personnel to remain focused, professional and apolitical in carrying out their constitutional duties during the elections,” he said.