Nigeria: Jonathan Warns Army Against Religious Bigotry

Lagos, Nigeria - President Goodluck Jonathan has cautioned officers and men of the Nigerian Army to shun all forms of ethnic and religious sentiments in the discharge of their duties.

He gave the charge yesterday at this year's Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL), which held at the Eagle Square, Abuja.

Jonathan warned that ethnic and religious bigotry in the nation's army could compromise its integrity and virtues, and endanger the nation's democracy if not checked.

"We must remember that some of the greatest dangers to our democracy and freedom are shrouded in the perils of ethnicity and religious intolerance. These evils threaten our very existence as one sovereign and indivisible nation," Jonathan stated.

He commended the army for its loyalty and subordination to civil authority and pledged that his administration will do more to improve on the welfare of its officers and men. He later presented 14 Distinguished Post Service Medals to seven retired and seven serving soldiers amongst whom were the Sultan of Sokoto Sa'ad Abubakar, Primate of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, and retired Major-Gen Ishola Williams.

He also commissioned the Nigerian Army Headquarters Command Officers' Mess in Asokoro District.

Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen. Abdurahman Dambazau thanked Jonathan for his "deep commitment" to the efficiency and professionalism of the Nigerian army and the armed forces in general.

Dambazau pledged the army's unalloyed loyalty to President Jonathan and the Nigerian people.

The occasion witnessed colourful parades and regimental displays by battalions of the Nigerian and presentation of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Commendation Award to six officers and nine soldiers.