6 December, 2012
by Senator Iroegbu
Indications emerged yesterday that the military high command may be unhappy with the unnecessary meddling and interference by various ethno-religious groups in the country over how the armed forces manage their affairs. They expressed dismay over how some groups of people are whipping up ethnic and religious sentiments capable of causing disaffection within the Nigerian military hierarchy, which many noted remains the best example of the country’s unity in diversity.
Some members of the armed forces,who spoke to THISDAY, expressed dismay at the manner in which the media and people with vested interest were putting ethnic and regional agenda in military services and appointments.They warned that with the current state of interest Nigerians have shown on who becomes what in the military, the profession might be jeopardised.
Some of them who spoke on condition of anonymity, reacted angrily to the alarm raised by the umbrella Muslim organisation in the North, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), over the recent deployment by the Defence Headquarters. JNI criticised the military authorities for removing the Commandant of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, Kaduna State, Air Vice Marshal Abdullahi Kure and the Corps Commander,Infantry, Jaji, Major Gen. Muhammad D. Isa, over the recent twin-bomb blasts that rocked the military cantonment.
The group had in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Dr.Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, in Kaduna on Tuesday, wondered why Kure and Isa, who were both Muslims, would be removed and replaced with non-Muslims before proper investigations into the matter were conducted. The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, had directed the headquarters to replace Kure and Isa. Ibrahim went ahead to put Air Vice Marshal E.E. Osim, as Commandant of AFCSC, while Maj Gen K.C. Osuji was expected to act as Corps Commander, Infantry, Jaji. Their replacement was a fallout of the investigation by the Board of Inquiry raised by the Defence Headquarters to unravel the circumstances that led to the bomb explosion which rocked St Andrew’s Protestant Church at the Jaji Military Cantonment.
However, military sources warned members of the public to steer clear of how the military conducts its activities, asking: “Are these people also aware that both former officers were Muslims as well. While they were in charge nobody saw them as Muslims but excellent officers who merited their postings and positions. “Meanwhile, their redeployment followed strict military tradition and has in no way diminished their status as they are being redeployed in other areas. Why all these reactions? Is this the first time senior officers are redeployed? “This kind of attitude and reaction is setting up a dangerous precedent and bringing religious sentiments into military affairs,” they warned.
“The same feelings was also re-echoed last October when President Goodluck Jonathan was being expected to change the Service Chiefs. “They advised that the President should be left alone in deciding who should be appointed where and when without putting pressure on him to do so thereby introducing sectionalism in the military profession. “It does not matter who he appoints or where he is from, military is military and must be seen so and not putting pressure on the President based on ethnic or regional considerations.This should not be like the case of the so called banana republics, where military loyalties are to their regions creating many rebels within the military,” the sources noted.
Meanwhile, several efforts to get the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col Mohammed Yerima, to comment on the issue proved unsuccessful as he refused to speak on it.