A Fulani professional group, Forum of Fulbe Professionals in Africa (FOFPRA), has apologised to the Nigerian Army, the General Officer Commanding, GOC 1 of the Nigerian Army and the Commander of Nigeria Army School of Artillery, NASA, over its earlier statement linking them to the gruesome killings of 11 relatives.

The group has also retracted the statement it had issued where it accused the Army, the GOC 1 Division, Major General Valentine Okoro and the Commander of NASA in Kaduna, Lt. Col. Atebe, of complicity in the killings, said to have been carried out at Laduga Grazing Reserve area of Kaduna State.

The group, which explained that it has on its own carried out discreet findings to know the veracity or otherwise about the sad development, passed a vote of confidence on the GOC and the troops of the Nigerian Army, saying they have not betrayed the trust bestowed on them as earlier alleged.

To this end, the Fulani professional group, which noted that the killings were carried out by criminals bent on causing ethno-religious conflicts, called on President Bola Tinubu, international human rights organisations and the general public to ignore their earlier statements.

Recall that after the discovery of eleven dead bodies of Fulani youths of Tilde Fulbe Community on January 11, the group had alleged that the action was carried out by some elements of the Nigerian military, from the Nigerian School of Artillery, NASA, and the Nigerian Navy Armament Technology School at the Ladugga grazing reserve.

The group particularly urged the public to hold the Nigerian Army, the GOC 1 Division and the NASA Commander responsible for the dastardly act.

But the group, in a statement on Thursday, retracted and apologised to the trio for the action, which it described as regrettable.

In the statement signed by FOFPRA President Prof. Ibrahim Maccido and National Secretary,
Dr Mohammed Ibn Khalifa, respectively, the group said its retraction and subsequent apologies to the Nigerian Army, the GOC 1 Division and the NASA Commander, respectively, came after a thorough investigation it launched into the killings of its 11 natives.

While regretting its action, the group explained that the act was earlier informed by the information gathered from some natives, explaining that profound and independent findings launched by their expanded team on the matter have proven otherwise.

The statement reads: “As a responsible God-fearing and patriotic professional group, we feel obliged to withdraw our earlier statement/position accusing the Nigerian Army and the military of complicity in the death of eleven (11) of our people in Kaduna State

“In our earlier statement also, we had called for the redeployment and possible sanction of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Kaduna, for reasons that have turned out to be false and unfounded.

“In recognition of this development, coupled with the new material and circumstantial evidence before us, we are compelled to tender an unreserved apology to the Nigerian Military, The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Gen. Christopher Musa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, as well as the GOC 1 Division, Major General Valentine Okoro.

“We believe that our now-retracted statement was borne out of ignorance and the passion we have for our brothers and sisters who, we think, deserve to be protected at all times.

“Moving forward, we pledge to get our facts right, double-check information, and give the authorities the benefit of the doubt before concluding.

“As a professional Fulbe group, we are determined, more than ever before, to support government institutions, especially our Military, to safeguard the lives and property of all Nigerians, irrespective of creed, religion, ethnicity and other considerations.

“We recognise and appreciate the beautiful works our troops through the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN); hence, we are ready to provide human intelligence where needed.

“At the Divisional level, we hope to engage with the GOC 1 Division to know what we can do to help him achieve his mandate.

“Apart from retracting our earlier statement, we intend to educate our people on our new findings, as well as enlighten them on the need to see the Nigerian Military as their protector and not their enemy.

“In conclusion, we undertake to rally our people across the country to remain law abiding and report suspicious movements and activities to the military and other law enforcement agencies for prompt action”.

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