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Danjuma a disgrace

Posted by By LOUIS ODION, PATRICK ASONYE and CHRISTIAN ITA on 2005/08/01 | Views: 753 |

Danjuma a disgrace

Even with the dust stirred by his alleged collection of excess gratuity yet to settle, retired Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Victor Malu is on the offensive again.

Even with the dust stirred by his alleged collection of excess gratuity yet to settle, retired Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Victor Malu is on the offensive again. His victim this time is the former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma, saying the latterís four-year reign at the defence ministry was a monumental disaster.

Malu who spoke exclusively with Sunday Sun in Lagos said he no longer has respect for Danjuma, a man he once idolised, owing to his ďdismal performanceĒ as Defence Minister.

Unfazed by reported moves by the military authorities to make him cough out the N8 million gratuity he allegedly collected in excess, the former Army chief also has harsh words for President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Asked how he would react if he were to be physically challenged by Obasanjo, the Benue State-born infantry General shot from the hip. "I will wrestle him to the ground," he said.

Insisting Danjuma was no longer his old self, Malu said: "I think he (Danjuma) had a difficulty of even expressing himself. We used to go for conferences. Except for Mrs. Modupe Adelaja(then Minister of State for Defence-Navy), nobody spoke for the Ministry of Defence. Instead, it was we the service chiefs who were nobodies that would come and start stating our case. Danjumah never talked; whether he understood what was being said, I had no idea."
He gave reasons why he used to adore Danjuma.
His words: "By 1970, this man was my GOC, I was a lieutenant. By 1974/1975, he was the Chief of Army Staff; I was still a major. The man is an ex-student of my school. I used to worship General Danjumah."
But all that now exist in the past as Malu today has everything but respect for his former boss.
"Do I still worship him? Not now that he has lost his bearing. We advised him on January 14, 2001 that he has reached a time when he can get out of this thing and still go out with respect and name. As at that time, the Ministry of Defence was the worst hit in funding and we went to tell him that ĎIf this man appointed you the Minister of Defence because of your closeness and support for him and your name is being dragged in the mud, this is the best time to go. Make a statement and get out so that it will send a message to him.í
"The three service chiefs were there. Right from the church, we followed him to his house. He said Monday, which was the Armed Forces Remembrance Day (January 15, 2002) would be his last in office. We got to the Eagles Square, finished the parade, went for refreshment; the president came and met us. We had a few drinks, he congratulated those who took part in the parade and left us. We were left there with General Danjumah hoping that his statement would come. After one and half hours, he said he was going, we escorted him and that was the end of that subject. One and half months after or less, the three of us were retired."

As Defence Minister, Danjuma was a failure
"If the history of General Danjumahís tenure as a Minister of Defence were going to be written, it would be credited with one thing: he renamed the barracks in the Nigeria Army, full stop and I mean it. We did not procure anything. So the problem of quarreling with somebody over procurement is not even there. In any case, I have served in the Army headquarters as early as about 1981. So I know the procedure for procurement in and out. I canít become a Chief of Army Staff and start asking that I should go and do procurement. Itís not our responsibility. You recommend what you want procured then you work out the numbers, give it to the government. It is the number acceptable to them that they would procure.
"I served the Army for 22 months as Chief of Army Staff. I did not get a kobo from the government for any project. Despite that, I built the barrack in Abuja. 50-bedroom bungalows. I asked the Minister of Defence to go and commission it and expected that my minister would at least ask me that, ĎLook we are not giving you money, how did you come about building a barrack?í But he went and commissioned it without asking questions. So I said ĎSir, you are beginning to frighten me. You used to insist on transparency and accountability. You know we cannot get money from anywhere unless from the Ministry of Defence. You did not give us money and I built a barrack that you are coming to commission as a minister, you didnít even ask questions.í
"He said he had wanted to ask questions but forget. If people were to be honoured, that barrack would have been named General Malu. I donít care whether they do it or not. Iíve never asked for such things. Look, I have collected over 15 chieftaincy titles in Liberia. I have the highest national honours from that country: Distinguished Service Order (DSP)."

If OBJ slaps me?
"If the president slaps me, Iíll wrestle him to the ground. That is not part of his responsibilities. If you feel so bad about me, you want to get me out, do so but if you touch me as a person, I will ground you straight away."
OBJ feared I could topple him
"Maybe in his mind, Obasanjo felt that I was a threat, that I could over throw him, which was the farthest thing from the truth. Subsequent events showed it. I left the Army, six months after a team of soldiers who were in my command went to my village to kill, destroy my whole village. They systematically used armoured vehicles to kill people and so on. When a thing like that happens in the military, the military should set up a board of inquiry. The Minister did not order a board; the president did not until there was intense pressure from foreign governments, from the European Union on the human rights record of Obasanjoís government. Reluctantly, he set up a board and a judicial commission. If you watch the tapes of the judicial commission you would know that this was done just to satisfy the Western world that something is being done.

"There were 10 terms of reference. Not a single term mentioned the word armed force or soldiers. It was not the militia that went with armoured vehicles to my village. It was not the navy or the police, they were soldiers who drove from Yola, more than 100 km into Benue, passed the town where the bodies of the so-called 19 soldiers were found, moved 10-15 km into my own local government and they only destroyed my village. If they had destroyed other villages along the road I would have said I was unfortunate to have been within the radius. They specifically came to my village, killed the people, systematically set fire and burnt everything, used their armoured vehicles to destroy my late fatherís house, my own house and went back. In fact, the following day when they were coming, they brought trucks to cart away everything. But my younger bothers were very clever. In the night, they carried what was not yet burnt and hid in the bush so when the soldiers came, they couldnít find anything.

I wonít stop criticising him
"Since my retirement, I have lived in Lagos. I go to Benue occasionally, very rarely to my village because my mother is still alive. I have to go and see her and sort out their problems. The time that killing was being done, I was in London. This was a strictly targeted thing and the reason was that I didnít keep quiet. I was a critic of Obasanjoís government at least in the areas that I knew very well, pertaining to security and Iíll never stop. So if they took offence about that, thatís a different thing but to say that I quarreled with Obasanjo is not correct. Iím a Nigerian and I happen to have come from the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
"There are others that are on the outskirts. They can claim to be from Benin, Lome, Chad or Niger. I come from the Middle Belt for Godís sake. So I have very much at stake in this country and I have a right as a Nigerian of 34 years of loyal service to this country to talk about what is not being done correctly."

Problem with OBJ
"My telephones are bugged today. When they call me and ask about Obasanjo, I tell them the most annoying things that you will get. I know the limits of the law. He cannot say he heard it in my conversations. What was his business tapping my phone? I donít have any problem with him that is personal. The problem with Obasanjo is that he believes he is the only person with knowledge in the world. As Chief of Army Staff, several times I insisted he must hear me on professional matters.
"There was a day I said something, I think that was my last day in service. I said ĎSir, when we are talking to you, you look at us as these young officers you left as majors and so on.í I said yes, that was about 25 years ago. Itís the same job weíve been doing 24 years after. The ranks weíre wearing are firm. We didnít march through any politics like others who did 18 years to wear the same rank. By the time I did 18 years in service, I was just a Lieutenantí Colonel. So for goodness sake, give me credit that even if Iím stupid, I have got enough experience to talk about my profession. General Obasanjo accepted it in good faith. He said, yes! What I was saying was true.
"We had contributed to peace keeping more than any other African country, starting from 1960 when we went to Congo. Thereís nowhere we havenít gone to and that is one of the things that have given this country a lot of respect. Even when there were all the sanctions and hatred for Abacha, this country was commended for what the Nigerian Armed Forces did in peace keeping. Itís one of the things that projected Nigeria to the point of wanting to join the Security Council.
"When Obasanjo became the president because of Abacha, because of Babangida, anything associated with ECOMOG became his enemy. First of all, he started by accusing these people that £8 billion was spent on ECOMOG. It went from 8 billion to 10 billion to 12 billion to 14 billion. I couldnít bear it any longer. I said ĎSir I thought ECOMOG has terminated.í "This money has been increasing from 8 to 10 to 14. Do we still have ECOMOG anywhere else? One of the problems with Nigeria, Iíve said this before that even you seated here, if by any stroke of chance, you become the Governor the following day, none of your aides will ever tell you what youíre doing is wrong and that is what is affecting us more than any other country.
"A Nigerian loves himself more than any other person. No single person is ready to sacrifice his life for another. That explains why armed robbers would come to your house, take your wife and your daughter, assault them on the ground, you put your hand on your head crying. In any other country, itís your responsibility to give your life."

I was sacrificed for America
"The Americans made it impossible for the president to find favour with them if I was still in office. Unfortunately, my two colleagues were sacrificed because if they were to be left, Nigerians would ask a lot of questions. Why only the Chief of Army Staff was removed?
"Outside Nigeria, people respect me a lot but when I come to my country I understand because I donít keep quiet like others do, Iím a target. I went to Paris like Iíve been doing for the past years to watch the French Open. I got back to the airport here, left my passport with a protocol officer and minutes after I left, I had not even reached my house, they phoned that SSS had impounded my passport and that they asked whether they should take it by force. I told them not to do anything stupid. I know what the law says.

Iím capable of taking care of myself; Iíd get my passport. I waited in this house for 2 weeks, nobody called. I initiated a call to the National Security Adviser, General Aliu Muhammed and the first question put him off.
"I said ĎSir, I didnít know that the short time I was away to Paris, the constitution had been changed. What offence do you commit these days that nobody arrests you or interrogates you but waylays and impounds your passport?í
"He told me he actually didnít know that it might be the SSS. I said but ĎSir, you are in-charge of all the security agencies in Nigeria.í He then said I should come to Abuja to see him. I went to see him. We discussed some things he didnít like. I told him that he was my boss and he would have known that heís working with the government that doesnít even trust him, which is true. At this point, he said I should see the Director General of the SSS.

"When I got there, I met two gentlemen well dressed in suit and had some prepared questions for me. The first question was the most stupid question youíd ask any intelligent person or anybody who has had any level of intelligence training.

"The question was that there had been intelligence that I had been going to Paris to meet people who donít wish this government well with the intention of doing something to affect the government. In fact, instead of answering them directly, I asked if that was based on their intelligence or what a Babalawo told them because if youíre asking intelligent questions, you should know the personís background.

"In the first place, I donít speak French. As much as I would have loved to, I donít speak French but more importantly, If the records were to be checked, I go to Paris every second week of May to come back every first week of June because that is the time the French Open takes place. Even when I was still in service, I used to find an excuse; either that I was going for medical check up to go and watch the tournament and I used to cover myself such that nobody identified me at all. Itís something I do religiously.

"I asked them whether I stayed long enough in Paris to learn French enough to meet the so-called people who donít wish this government very well or whether they were expecting that I would go and recruit the tennis players that came from all over the world to destabilize the government in Nigeria? I said I just left the service of the Nigerian army. I was in a position that I could have done anything without any challenge. I did not and I still donít believe that is the right thing to do. Why would I in my retirement go to do such things? I donít have any other place than Nigeria."

US dubious move
"I didnít have disagreement with Obasanjo. I went first to the Minister of Defence to tell him the Americans are not coming to train us on peace keeping. The Nigeria Army should teach the Americans on peace keeping. Peace keeping is not nuclear, chemical or biological warfare. Thatís the job for an infantry man who walks on his feet, carrying his ammunition, rifles, you maneuver to get to the point using fire. That is what Americans donít do.
The Americans would first bomb the place before going in. If you survive, you survive but you canít do peace keeping that way.
"If you remember Ambassador Twaddel, he was the last but one U.S ambassador in Nigeria. He represented the American government at the Liberian crisis. At the end of that crisis, he wrote a report to the American government. I had come back, he had gone back to the U.S. He sent me two copies of the report. There were whole chapters that were on the Armed Forces of Nigeria after observing them in operation.
"What they said in effect was that if in future, the American government wishes to support any regional grouping that has a peace-keeping outfit like ECOMOG in the case of ECOWAS, they should not talk about sending personnel. He said give the people the logistics. He found out that what the Nigerian Army did could not have been done by any American soldier. That man never knew he would ever come to Nigeria as ambassador.

"If you remember the five years of Abacha, we had completely severed from any other western country. All our officers who were in the various institutions abroad were sent back. We were not going on course. America was curious to know how from a third world country with all the sanctions, the Nigerian Army could achieve the feat we achieved in Liberia. And then, they came and found a willing person in the name of Obasanjo. They got everything they wanted. It was at that point I told him (Obasanjo), ĎSir, we cannot have Americans come here to tell us they want to train us on peace keeping.í

"An interesting thing happened in Sokoto. The Americans insisted on staying in the barracks with our soldiers. I said over my dead body. I asked General Danjumah who was my GOC before he became a chief of army staff, ĎWould you, during your tenure have allowed this foreign troop to come and stay in the barracks with your soldiers?í He said no, that he would need to discuss it with Obasanjo.

"At a stage, we agreed that the Americans would give us some support in terms of equipment required for peacekeeping operations. We compiled a table of tools and equipment so that they would help us with them. That was the only time that we agreed that if they are giving out equipment, they should not give us what we already had in our ordinance. We agreed to allow them train us on that equipment for as long as they wanted.

"We were waiting for them after we gave them the list to tell us what they were bringing and the quantity so that we could start arranging the training. We woke up one day and found many American instructors. Where is the equipment? No equipment. So what are you going to give us? They said they were to start training us on peace keeping.

"So, this kept going on but the dangerous part of it was that as at that time we were in Bakassi nose to nose with the Camerounians. The same Americans that were claiming to be training us for peace keeping were training and equipping the Camerounian army. I was the one that captured that place and I know what we suffered."

I have no respect for Diya
"If there is one officer in the Nigerian Army that I do not respect any longer, he is General Diya. To be an honourable person in our own concept is to be able to face the dangers. The conviction of General Diya for coup plotting became like something of tribal politics. Fortunately, I come from a minority area.

"People accused me of everything together with Abacha, how we wanted to jail Diya by all means. Yet among the officers I jailed was my best friend who remained my best friend after he came back from prison. When General Adisa died in London and the body was brought here, I paid N2.5 million for EAS to fly it to Ilorin and I accompanied his body. In fact, during the trial, I couldnít look him in the face. I knew his mind because he was a very loyal person to Abacha and when they removed him as Minister of Works, his resistance was lowered and that was how he was drafted into the coup. If you want to know the truth about the coup, thereís an officer called Major Fadipe. He was Diyaís Chief Security Officer. Though I convicted that officer, I was the same person who wrote the first memo to plead with the Army authority on his behalf. In fact, I wrote to General Abacha when I wanted to submit the report of the trial that I convicted this officer. He was as guilty as charged, but I pleaded that he should be reinstated in the Army because he had the characteristics of what an officer should be; being truthful even at the point of being killed.

"The day he testified, Diya couldnít raise his head to look at anybody. He told the truth. In fact, it was after the trial that I came to know the officer was to be ordained as a priest and I said whatever happened, this was an officer I wanted to work with.
"The people who were convicted were as guilty as hell. All those ingredients that constitute a coup were there. If Diya had gone out to tell Nigerians that he did this because of what Abacha was, he would have been the greatest hero in this country. But what offended me was the sort of lies Diya went to tell, especially before young officers who were working under him, like Fadipe who was loyal to him to a fault."

Wearing Abachaís badge
"That was an issue Kehinde Shofola wanted to use to make people believe that I was an Abachaís sycophant. I wore Abachaís badge very proudly and I have no regrets. Diya distributed Abachaís badge to all his staff by himself. In my own case, it was Tom Ikimi, the Foreign Minister of Nigeria who brought the badges when we were in Liberia. If you remember the composition of the ECOMOG, we were together with soldiers from other countries. So we wanted to be identified with where we came from. It was not only the badge. We had things on our shoulders and chest to show the country we came from. I wore the badge. There is no doubt about it."

My pension controversy
"We (service chiefs) retired on April 24, 2001. I was senior by two years to the other two officers. I started my cadet training on September 3, 1967. I got commissioned on March 14, 1970. The two of them were from regular six while I was of regular three. The two of them started their military training on July 11, 1969, got commissioned on September 11, 1971.
"So, already I was two years their senior. Every year you serve on the combat or wartime is calculated as double. The civil war started on July 6, 1967 ended on January 15, 1970. So clearly, I had two years of war time service multiply that by two, thatís four, add the four to the previous two years; thatís six years seniority already. I went back to Liberia in June 1992. Fought for one year and came back in June 1993; thatís a full one year, multiplied by two, that is another two years.
"This added to the previous six makes it eight years. I went back to Liberia in August 1996, came back in January 1998. That was about 18 months but for the purpose of easy calculation, make it one and a half years. When you multiply it by two, you get three years. Add it to the eight, thatís 11 years. So I accumulated 8 years than my colleagues. Then, when I saw the published pension, they got more than me. Till today, there is no basis that you can work out and find to be the case."

Ogomudia betrayed me
"The person who was the Chief of Army Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia did not phone me even to say sorry about what happened or that the authorities were going to investigate. He avoided me completely. To be very honest about that, he was just a very stupid person. I kept him in service and Iím proud to say it. Obasanjo had ordered that I throw him out of the Army after the Kaduna crisis in 2000.
"He was the GOC that I appointed in 1999. Obasanjo had told Danjumah to give me instruction to get that officer out of the army. When Danjumah came, I asked what was the officerís offence? He said he didnít ask. I said ĎSir, if I am to write the letter, I would have to know.í That was how I kept him in the Army."

How we sent soldiers to Egypt
"I was one of the most disciplined officers that the Nigerian Army has produced. I believe very squarely in the law and I enforce it to the letter. This is one of the things that earned me a bad name especially when I became the Chief of Army Staff. A lot of people misunderstood me because I was trying to do my job. Take the case of the soldiers that were taken to Egypt for medical treatment. Those soldiers will ever remain grateful that there was somebody called General Malu. I wasnít doing that because I wanted to be popular with soldiers.

"If you remember since 1990 when we started the Liberian crisis, they were bringing in injured soldiers and dumping them in the military hospitals especially between 1992 and 1993 when Charles Taylor tried to take power by force. Unfortunately, that was when I was the Chief of Staff of ECOMOG. I was commanding the whole of the Nigeria continent and I was the Director of Operations. That was when we fought Charles Taylor to a stand still and when we had taken control, he quickly agreed to sign the cease-fire. I was only a Chief of Staff; General Tunji Olori was my boss.

"When most of those soldiers that were in the military hospital were brought and for some reasons, the Army didnít find it convenient to send them for any medical treatment. I came back from Liberia and I was in the War College from where I went to Liberia. I tried every day to convince the Army headquarters that these soldiers should be given proper medical attention, after all they went to operate on their behalf. Nobody respected that view.

I never knew I would ever become a Chief of Army Staff and then I found myself in that position and I said in my mind that if every other person could not take these soldiers for medical treatment, the fact that I led them in war, I should take them for treatment. I think it was about N35 million naira of money we sourced within the army because the ministry of defence would not give out money.

"We sourced this money so we could send these soldiers for medical treatment in Egypt. I gave the money to the Ministry of Defence to change it at the official date. Instead of changing the money for us to send soldiers for treatment, somebody in the ministry deposited the money in a bank and was collecting the interest. In fact, the day I confronted General Theophilus Danjuma about this, apparently he didnít know. He was very furious and he ordered that the money be returned immediately.

"So, we bought money from the black market and sent it to the hospital in Egypt. The soldiers who were going for treatment, their recommendation, their feeding and treatment was paid by the army and therefore, they were not entitled to estacode. I later went to address them saying the treatment you are enjoying was not sponsored by the government as it is supposed to be. It is from our little resources that we had gathered this money to send you for treatment and particularly because of my concern as your former commander.

Even in that situation, we were still able to give each of the soldiers £350 pocket money, which was not their entitlement.
"They said a lot of things, which they knew was not true. There was a medical doctor that we sent to accompany them. He is not a soldier and so we had to pay him his allowance. The soldiers said we paid the officers and that we did not pay them.

"The Nigerian ambassador in Cairo nearly went crazy because of the sort of display these soldiers went to do at the airport. They wanted to send them back. I pleaded with them to let them get treatment, assuring however that when they come back we would subject them to the same military discipline that we would have given anybody doing such a thing against the Army. We waited patiently till these offices came back and we set up a board of enquiry that indicted those who actually took part in it and we convened a court marstial.

By the time that happened, the papers especially those in Lagos wrote so many negative stories about me. I called the press and told them. I was the Chief of Army Staff. If you have one hand, one ear and one eye, and youíre still on the pay of the army, youíre a soldier and you are subject to the same level of discipline. Those soldier were still being tried while I was retired."

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Comments (23)

emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

Wow,trying to get across to Ekene jnr he happens to be my old friend,lost his contact.any info would do me good

Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

hahahaha u r a wierdo…hehehe

ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

have u ever thought the garbage or the toilet might be jealous? Ur so full of shiz- white piece of shiz BET lol. That's where ppl like you belong (toilet garbage etc), ik the truth hurts but dont take it as an insult im just trying to describe you; ik im good at it ty-The truth hurts right. JSYK black ppl aren't nerds were just smarter than you oops Btw BLMM!!!

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

wow so bad.


U r weird gus

yawning(On, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

Hmmm define weird plz