Army officers seek redress against alleged wrongful dismissal
The decision by the Federal government to name the newly established Nigerian Army Shooting Range at the once dreaded Sambisa forest after the late Lt.-Col. Abu Ali is a worthy morale booster. Before his death, alongside six of his men during a gun battle with insurgents on November 4, 2016, the late Ali was the Commander of the 272 Special Forces Tanks Battalion.
Considered one of the heroes of the war against terror, Ali, alongside his colleagues, Sgt Muazu Ibrahim, Sgt Hussani Jafaru, Sgt Bassey Okon, Cpl Chukwu Simon, Able Seaman Patrick Paul, (Nigerian Navy) and Pte Salisu Lawal, was eventually buried at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.
But within the army, there is bad blood brewing among its rank and file with a cry for justice. The Guardian gathered that some military officers are currently living in regrets and disappointment as a result of perceived injustices meted to them by the army hierarchy.
A typical case is that of 38 officers, who were dismissed last year by the army on “various disciplinary issues. In all, nine Major Generals, 10 Brigadier Generals, seven Colonels, 11 Lieutenant Colonels and one Major were summarily retired.
Reports have it that apart from involvement in the controversial $2.1 billion arms deal allegedly supervised by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), political partisanship, money laundering and corruption including purchase of choice houses abroad are among the transgressions that allegedly cost the officers their jobs.
In a statement issued by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, he said: “That only 38 senior officers were affected by the retirement exercise. We are quite aware that some mischievous elements are trying to whip up sentiments. This is quite unfortunate because all the affected officers were retired based on ‘service exigencies’ and in line with the Armed Forces Act, CAP A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
But some of the affected officers, who spoke in confidence, denied the allegations. They claimed they were neither invited nor made to face any board of inquiry (BoI) over the alleged offences. They alleged that their sudden exit from service was a form of ethnic cleansing to weed out officers believed to have been close to the former administration. They further argued that, even if there were allegations against them, they were not given the opportunity to defend themselves.
The affected officers included Major-Generals F. O. Alli, Atewe, I. N. Ijoma, L. C. Ilo, TC Ude, Letam Wiwa, SD Aliyu, M.Y Ibrahim, LC Ilo and O. Ejemai. Others were Brigadier-Generals D. M. Onoyeveta, A. S. O. Mormoni Bashir, A.S.H Sa’ad, A. I. Onibasa, D. Abdusalam, L.M. Bello, KA Essien, B. A. Fiboinumama and I. M. Lawson.
Also affected were Cols. I. O. Ahhachi, P. E. Ekpeyong, T. T. Minimah, O. U. Nwonkwo, and F. D. Kayode, Lt-Cols C. O. Amadi, K. O. Adimogha, T. E. Arigbe, O. A. Baba Ochankpa, D. B. Dazang, O. C. Egemole, Enemchukwu, A. Mohammed, A. S. Mohammed, G. C. Nyekwu, T. O. Oladintoye, C. K. Ukoha and Major A. T. Williams.
In protest, the affected officers had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Chief of Defense Staff General AG Olonisakin, against their wrongful retirement from the Nigerian Army, seeking for redress.