August 01, 2007

Nigeria: Why We Retired Army Generals -Yar'Adua

Daily Trust (Abuja)
1 August 2007
Jibrin Abubakar

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua yesterday explained that there are no hidden motives behind the retirement of about 40 senior officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces, saying the affected generals have reached their retirement age.

The Defence Head-quarters also said the reshuffle is not linked to a coup scare.

A statement signed by Olusegun Adeniyi, Special Assistant to the President (Communications) said, "the retired officers are those who were due for retirement having spent the stipulated 35 years in service. In fact, most of the officers were commi-ssioned on March 1, 1972."

It said that the decision on the retirement of affected officers was taken at an Army Council meeting in June this year.

It also explained that the redeployment of other officers was borne out of the need to fill the vacant positions arising from the retirements.

"No other motives should be ascribed to this purely routine movement of personnel in the Armed Forces," the statement added.

With the retirement, all the General Officers Comman-ding the five Divisions of the Army have been removed while new ones have been appointed.

In the exercise the Nigeria Air Force retired four Air Vice Marshals which include the Air Officer Commanding the Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal Nelson Dilli and the Chief of Policy and Plans at the Defence headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Saliu Atawodi.

Following the removal of the GOCs, new GOCs and Corp Commanders have been appointed for the army while new Air Officers Comman-ding have been appointed for the Air Force.

The new appointees are: Major General A. T. Ibrahim, GOC 82 Division Enugu, Major General Dambazau, GOC 2 Division Ibadan, Major General Moses Obi, GOC 1 Division Kaduna, Major General B. Akinyemi, GOC 3 Division Jos, Major General M.C. Yarima, Military Secretary Army and Major General J. B. Samuel, Comman-dant of the Nigerian Army Artillery Corps and School.

Others are: Major General Adekegba Ovo, former Director of Military Intelli-gence, now Chief of Training and Operations at the Defence Headquarters, Brigadier General O. Role, formerly the Deputy Commandant of the National Defence College, now the Commander Army Head-quarters Garrison, Abuja.

For the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Femi Gbadebo, formerly the Air Officer Commanding Training Command, Kaduna has been appointed the new AOC Tactical Command while Air Vice Marshal C. Obieika, formerly the Air Officer in charge of Inspections at the NAF Headquarters is the AOC Training Command.

Some of the Generals retired include: Major General S. Adewuyi, formerly GOC 82 Division; Major General R. Ihekire, Commandant of TRADOC and former Force Commander of African Union Force in Darfur.

Others are: Major General Lawrence Jokotola of 1 Division Kaduna; Major General Joseph Oshanupin of 3 Division Jos and Major General Maina Saleh of 2 Division Ibadan.

The retirement takes effect from the end of July (last month).

Daily Trust recalls that former President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered a similar purge of the military shortly after his inauguration in 1999.

Obasanjo said then that he wanted to rid Nigerian military of its penchant for plotting coups.

But the military yesterday said Yar'Adua's motives for approving the retirement of 40 top army and air force commanders are different this time.

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"We are now following due process and trying to go back to the best military traditions," Nigerian defence spokesman Col MD Yusuf told the BBC News website.

He also denied that any particular ethnic group was being targeted, which has led to unrest in the military in the past.

"There is nothing abnormal about that number of officers being retired. If they joined the army at the same time, isn't it normal that they'd attain retirement age at the same time too?"

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