Need To Retain Service Chiefs

June 21, 2020
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Press Statement

We read with amazement several calls for the removal of the service Chiefs with some giving reasons albeit weak ones and others giving no reason. The call for a change of guards in our security apparatus no doubt might suggests a failure on the part of those in charge, but the question is whether they have really failed? The answer is No.

Those calling for the removal of the entire service chiefs will also be met with questions like;What about our Minister of Defence? What of the National Security Adviser? What of the Director of State Security Service (DSS)? What of the Comptroller of Immigration Service? What of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)? The list is endless if we are to buy the suggestion of these critics.

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In any case, if our pain is that the war against the dreaded insurgents has been poorly prosecuted, we cannot fault just one group. This is more so as we have in the last couple of years, had an overburdened military. Rather than allowing them to concentrate on the onerous challenges of insurgency, the same service chiefs have been distracted now and again with the task of tackling other things including electoral malpractices, Herders-Farmers clashes, Cattle rustling, etc.

If Nigeria wants an end to insurgency, then the war must be comprehensive; it must be approached from all ends as was done with the Ebola calamity. Retirements in the military that we learn from the media must stop. This is the wrong time to ask military operatives to disengage because they have passed the age specified for certain grades. We are certainly in an emergency when things cannot be done as in normal times; instead, the military should be expanded because we lose nothing having hundreds of generals in the military until the war ends. This is one way of arresting the apprehension in the military that the continued stay of certain officials might truncate the career of their erstwhile juniors. Indeed, all ex-military personnel who are still agile ought to be recalled to the battle-front in line with the saying that once a general always a general.

We can also not leave the fight to the military alone. Civil authorities, the Police,SSS, NCDC, NIS etc. should man all recovered territories rather than leaving them fallow for future attacks. All citizens particularly those in affected areas must be mobilized through non-stop public enlightenment strategies which dwell on the evils of waging wars against the fatherland. This would hopefully dissuade new entrants into insurgency just as it could propel everyone to become the conscience of the nation. Thus, no one should envy the military for attracting huge subventions for a capital-intensive-venture. It is not enough for legislators to deprecate the trillions of naira that have allegedly gone to the military in a number of years without showing us how such trillions were misappropriated.

Apart from the main ‘Operation ‘Lafia Dole’ the Nigerian armed forces have had to institute other campaigns like ‘Operation Safe Haven’ to among other things quell ethno-religious conflicts and other criminal activities in the North Central. Can the Police not handle that? In addition, military campaigns are simultaneously on-going in other parts of the country.  As at today, the Nigerian military is fully involved in so many police duties. The logical answer is that they are doing what the nation demands of them which make it illogical to hold only them liable for the rising insecurity in the land.

So, before we sack the current service chiefs, let us adequately fund the military and stop them from being able to only eye the superior weapons of their opponents. Our federal legislators can lead the way by ceding to the military, the billions appropriated for repairing their beautiful National Assembly- an edifice whose contrived defects have remained invisible.

So, while we concede that People have the right to call for change of service Chiefs, But while we do not dispute the popularity of the call, we are however concerned that no one has provided credible evidence that the removal of the service chiefs would solve the problem at hand. We posit that if care is not taken, Nigeria may once again be dealing with the symptom rather than the cause of her problem. Put differently, if new service chiefs emerge now to operate in the existing convoluted environment, the required change would hardly come.

Contrary to claims by critics that President Muhammadu Buhari lacks power under the law to extend the tenure of service chiefs, the president is at liberty to delay the retirement of any military chief whose services are still needed.

The Revised Armed Forces of Nigeria’s Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service 2017 (HTACOS) empowers the president to extend the tenure of the security chiefs, irrespective of age or length of service.

Part 1, Section 11.08 of HTACOS states: “An officer appointed the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff shall be a four-star general and may hold the appointment for a continuous period of two years.

“The C-in-C may extend such an appointment for another period of two years from the date of expiration of the initial two-year period.”  Section 11.09 of the document states that “the foregoing notwithstanding, the President/C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a CDS/Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service.”

The HTACOS states on page 38 that “notwithstanding, the provisions of paragraphs 11.01 and 11.02 above, no commissioned officer shall be called upon to retire, relinquish or resign his commission or transfer to the reserve, nor shall pressure be exerted on him to do so except by the authority of the appropriate Service Council/Board.”

Section 11.07 of HTACOS states: “Where an officer has objection on being called upon to retire or resign, he may seek redress up to the highest possible level.”

Paragraph 11.09 affirms that “the foregoing notwithstanding, the President, C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a CDS/Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service. Paragraph 11.10 states that “a career in the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a primary one since the Services require only able-bodied persons. It follows then that quite a number of officers are bound to retire when they can still be usefully engaged in other professions outside the military.”

We believe the Service chiefs should be supported to finish off the final lap of the battle. We also suggest that funds be raised to support the Army, Navy and AIR FORCE to enable them clear up the remaining Insurgents. Hence we suggest an ENDOWNMENT FUND be created to enable Nigerians donate to support our Military financially. It should not be Government alone. On our Part we shall be pledging #100,000 to support the troops in the war front as soon as The Presidency establishes this ENDOWNMENT FUND.

This is our sincere contribution and opinion Sir.

May God bless Nigeria.

Yours Sincerely

Osuagwu Ugochukwu Esq                                       Ogboli Charles Esq                                         

( CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYERS)

20/06/2020

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