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07.09.2021 Extra FACT CHECK: Is the Muslim Jummah Responsible for Security Breaches at Army Formations, as Claimed by Olawunmi? No!

Published 7th Sep, 2021

By Damilola Ayeni

The claim of Kunle Olawunmi, a retired Naval Commodore, that security is ‘only’ relaxed in Nigeria’s military formations on Fridays to allow unrestricted entry and exit of Muslims for Jumah prayers is false, FIJ can report.

Reacting to the abduction of Major Christopher Datung and killing of two military officers at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, on Tuesday, August 24, Olawunmi, head, Department of Criminology and Security Studies, Chrislam University, Nigeria, and former Navy Commodore, condemned the recurrent relaxation of security at military formations on Fridays.

READ ALSO: REPORTER’s DIARY: Wearing a Hijab, I Entered and Exited an Army Cantonment Without Questioning

WHAT EXACTLY DID OLAWUNMI SAY?

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday, August 25, Olawunmi described the NDA attack as an aberration and complained about the constant “invasion” of military formations by Muslims for Jumah prayers.

“My impression, I think, is just the impression of every Nigerian at this time. This is an aberration. I mean, you don’t attack a Nigerian Defence Academy, kill officers and get away with it,” he had told Channel TV’s Maupe Ogun-Yusuf.

“The last time I was in an NDA was in 2017. I went to carry out an investigation (by the Minister of Defence) to check what was going on with the training and the security environment there…

READ MORE: REPORTER’S DIARY (II): With a Waistcoat and a Bible, I Entered and Exited Two Barracks Without Questioning

“I remember I spent about a week at the NDA with the commandant and the staff. But something struck me. And that was, every Friday, the gate of the NDA was thrown open and everybody had access to pray in the mosque. And I want to actually enjoin journalists to go to all military formations across the country on Friday by one o’clock. You are going to see the same thing happening across all military operations…”

Continuing, he said: “You are saying that the attack did not happen on Friday; of course, it will not happen on Friday. But they have enough time to carry out surveillance; they have enough time to have insiders that will work with them.”

CLAIM 1

“The problem is that journalists should go around our military institutions this Friday and carry their cameras and see the decadence… the security breach that goes on every Friday in all military institutions across Nigeria and tell the Minister of Defence to put a stop to that. The defence institutions, they are sacred. They’re not where people can come on Friday, throw open the gate, because they want to come and do jummat.”

CLAIM 2

While insisting that the weekly compromise of security to accommodate Muslims must have given the attackers enough room to study the security architecture of the NDA, Olawunmi said the situation is different on Sundays.

“The truth is that on Sundays we don’t have such an invasion of our premises by Christians to come and pray, or to come and do whatever on Sundays, but for the 35 years I spent in the military intelligence if you go to Tego Barracks in Apapa, it is the same,” he said.

“The Tego Barracks is where I was trained as an intelligence officer; it is the same on Friday. They troop in; they will throw it [the gates] open. It’s religion.

“And if, because we think about solution. The Minister of Defence should stop this, they should make pronouncement and stop it. Every Friday, people should go to various mosques around them to pray and maintain the sanctity, the sanctity of our military institutions. That’s what I’ll say.”

WELL, HE WAS NOT COMPLETELY RIGHT

However, FIJ’s independent investigation revealed that while military formations relax security to allow easy passage of Muslims for Jumah prayers on Fridays, the same courtesy is extended to Christians on Sundays.

READ MORE: REPORTER’S DIARY (III): Without the Bible or Hijab, I Couldn’t Enter an Army Cantonment

FIJ reporters who visited the army cantonment in Ikeja and Myhoung Military Barracks, Yaba, Lagos, on Friday and Sunday, dressed as a Muslim and a Christian respectively, entered and exited the compounds without questioning.

Meanwhile, the situation was different on Monday, as one of the reporters was screened by hard-faced soldiers while attempting to gain entrance to the Ikeja cantonment.

WAS OLAWUNMI RIGHT?

On his first claim: “The problem is that journalists should go around our military institutions this Friday and carry their cameras and see the decadence… the security breach that goes on every Friday in all military institutions across Nigeria and tell the Minister of Defence to put a stop to that,” Olawunmi is indeed CORRECT.

However, on the second, “The truth is that on Sundays we don’t have such an invasion of our premises by Christians to come and pray, or to come and do whatever on Sundays“, he is WRONG.

As FIJ discovered, religion — not Islam or Christianity — is responsible for the potential security breaches at military formations. The breach that occurs on Fridays for Jummah also occurs on Sundays for the Christian services. This, though, is not to say that his claims of an islamisation agenda in the Muhammadu Buhari government may or may not be right.

Published 7th Sep, 2021

By Damilola Ayeni

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