Tuesday, June 14

Leave us alone over retirements, army tells ‘politicians’

Leave us alone over retirements, army tells ‘politicians’

Rogers Nicholas, a major-general and head of the Nigerian army civilian and military relations, wants politicians to “leave the army alone”.

Nicholas was addressing controversies surrounding the mass retirement of senior officers in the army who were found guilty of corruption and partisanship in the 2015 general election.

On Sunday, TheCable published names of 41 affected officers – and stands by its story – although the army has disputed the figures.

Speaking on the NTA breakfast show on Tuesday, Nicholas urged the public to allow the army focus on doing its job professionally.

“What has happened now should not drag the army into political debate. We advise the politicians to just leave us alone and let us do our job professionally,” he said.

“We don’t get involved in politics and they don’t get involved in the military. The Nigerian army of today is highly apolitical and highly professional.”

On the conduct of the dismissed officers, he said: “You are supposed to do your job and provide enabling security for these elections to take place but when you take sides, you are looking for trouble.

“An open hearing was made and people tendered evidence and memorandum against some of these officers. After the initial investigation, another thorough investigation was done to ascertain the credibility of the report of the inquiry.”

He added that due process was followed and that the exercise was imperative to clean out the system.

“It is an open secret that a lot of people went for an inquiry set up by Mr President in the NSA’s office to investigate those that were involved in the arms scandal and some of the officers involved have been arraigned in the court by the EFCC.

“So people should not see it as anybody being witch hunted or being discriminated against. It’s just that due process has to be followed and the Nigerian army has to remain highly apolitical to sustain the tenets of democracy.”

Asked how the army draws the line between partisanship and political neutrality, Nicholas said that for elections and every exercise conducted  in this country, there is a documented code of conduct guiding the conduct of officers.

“Officers who were interested in politics were asked long ago to put in their papers and go and join politics,” he said.

“Every officer involved in this exercise was given a fair hearing and that if any officer feels aggrieved about the situation, he can appeal to the Commander in Chief or take a legal option.”

He also refuted the claim that the exercise had something to do with ethnicity, saying that it is unfortunate that at the particular time of the general elections of 2015, some of the officers involved were from a particular segment of the country.

“It is issues of military deployment. When they were deployed to those appointments, people didn’t see them as being from the north or west or from the south,” he said.

“Simply that somebody has misbehaved in his conduct or professional attitude does not turn into the issue of people being sentimental.”

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