The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has dismissed calls on the international community to impose a travel ban on top military officers over alleged violation of human rights of #EndSARS protesters.
He described as criminals those asking foreign governments to impose visa restrictions on him and the military commanders.
He said, “Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better.
“The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a general, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here.”
But #EndSARS protesters, human rights groups and lawyers, in separate interviews with The PUNCH berated Buratai for alleging that the protests were organised to discredit the Army.
They also criticised his directive to the commanders that they should not be afraid of the ICC.
You will not get away with soldiers’ killing peaceful protesters, activists reply Buratai
A leading member of the #EndSARS movement, Deji Adeyanju, said the COAS had escaped justice, insisting that he would not get away with soldiers’ killing of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
He admitted that his group had been leading the campaign for visa restrictions on Buratai and those who undermined democracy in the country.
Adeyanju berated the Army chief over the killing of about 1,000 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria popularly known as Shi’ites and hundreds of Indigenous People of Biafra members.
He stated, “We have been championing visa ban on him and others who continue to undermine democracy in the country and democratic tenets. How do you justify using bullets on unarmed protesters sitting down, holding the national flag and singing the national anthem?
“This is a chief of army staff who said his loyalty is not to the country but to (President) Buhari. You can imagine the level of disservice this particular COAS has done to the country.
“He will never get away with this one. We are assuring him that no matter how long it takes, he will never get away with this particular one.”
Another #EndSARS protests member, Uche Philip, also vowed that Buratai would not get away with soldiers’ killing of protesters.
On his part, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, described Buratai’s claim that the protests were organised to discredit the army as baseless.
Ogunlana said, “It shows, with due respect, how myopic, how grossly lacking in understanding, how disconnected those who purport to lead us but are actually misleading themselves and the country are.
“Youths gathered all over to demand a system change, not a government change. Nobody is talking of overthrowing Buhari or chasing the APC (All Progressives Congress) from power. They are only saying this system is a system of brutality and impunity and that SARS is just one of the indices of brutalization.