Nigerian Army
Nigerian Army

I’M COMPELLED for the second time in
less than two years to write on this vexed
issue of the alleged wrongful dismissal
of 38 senior military officers of the
Nigeria Army because of newly emerged
information which goes to show that
most of them were indeed not afforded
right to fair hearing.
Over a year and half ago when the
Army through its public relations
department published a release
indicating the retirement of these
soldiers, we were regaled with a
cacophony of sensational allegations
that the dismissed officers were caught
committing a range of offences during
the 2015 elections and for playing one
role or the other in the monumental
heist that allegedly occurred in the office
of the then National Security Adviser
Colonel Sambo Dasuki. Dasuki is facing
a barrage of court cases accusing him of
diverting over $2 billion of money meant
for purchases of weapons that would
have been deployed in combating the
armed Boko Haram terrorists.
At that time, when the retirements were
announced, many public affairs analysts
made allegations that the purge affected
mainly senior officers of South East of
Nigeria and some others from the South
South region of Nigeria and only very
few hail from some states in the North
West or North East of Nigeria. The Chief
of Army Staff is Kanuri of North East of
Nigeria whilst the minister of Defence
is from Zamfara in the North West of
Nigeria. There were therefore allegations
that the decision to retire those senior
officers was a deliberate purge of mainly
Igbo officers.
The Public Relations Department of
the Army was predisposed to supply
on demand the official reasons for the
action. At that time, there wasn’t any
other narrative available to writers so
the official angle trended necessitated an
earlier media intervention I did which
some media houses published but I never
sent the piece to Daily Sun newspapers.
The immediate reason for this second
article is to clear the cobweb of doubts
which my first piece raised over a year
and half ago particularly because due
to certain inexplicable reasons, Daily
Sun published my first article only this
year’s September even when I penned
the article nearly a year and half ago and
never sent it to the editorial desk of the
media house.
So how did the article done last year
published after a year and half and never
emanated from me the writer?
The publication of the first copy I did
on this same matter over a year and half
ago is coming against the backdrop of
emerging facts which have established
legally sustainable grounds to ask the
President of Nigeria to take a good look
at the allegations of wrongful dismissal
raised by these 38 Army officers most
of whom were never invited to appear
before the internal panels that probed
allegations of alleged misconducts ofmilitary officers during elections in 2015
or the panel that investigated the alleged
Arms’ budget diversion. Human Rights
Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)
has therefore decided to add our moral
voice to demand justice because if the
allegations of wrongful dismissal aren’t
investigated and quality redress provided,
it would be a total institutionalisation of
injustice. Augustine of Hippo had argued
that any government that is aversed to
honesty and justice is at best a bunch of
criminals.
When I penned the first material on the
gale of military retrenchments I didn’t have
the privilege of getting the other side of the
matter since only the official channels of the
military were available and those affected
military officers weren’t accessible or
willing to speak to independent media or
civil rights activists like us. The first article
basically quoted official accounts copiously
since i couldn’t get the other side.
From available materials and from
findings made available by the affected
Army officers who are thirty-eight senior
Army officers, they described their
circumstances for exiting as wrongful
dismissal from the Nigerian Army and
accused the Minister of Defence, Brig-
General Mansur Dan Ali (rtd), Chief
of Defence Staff, General Abayomi
Olonisakin, and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.
General Yusuf Buratai of victimisation of
innocent senior officers.
Through their lawyers, these military
officers successfully fought their alleged
illegal dismissal through the legal platform
of National Industrial Court. The Officers as
law abiding officers have also approached
the President urging him to review the
circumstances surrounding their unjust
removal from the only professional career
that they have known virtually all their
entire adult life.
The retired officers alleged that Ali,
Olonisakin and Buratai abused their offices
with impunity by maliciously punishing
innocent officers. They indeed cited series
of facts and figures which sound very
convincing and merit a review. This is the
reason I’m disturbed that someone can
bring up an old piece I penned down when
there was only one source of information.
What does that person circulating my stale
article aim to achieve? The truth should
indeed prevail and this is the reason
myself and my group are demanding
that President Muhammadu Buhari
takes a second look at this case to douse
the tensions generated by the skewed
retirement process that adversely affected
the Igbo speaking nationality.
Even Rivers State has 7 top officers wiped
off the map of the Army even when they
are claiming innocence.
In a petition dated August 22, 2017 and
addressed to President Buhari by the law
firm of Abdul Muhammed LP, which
this writer has, the officers recalled that
at the beginning of this administration,
two panels were instituted to inquire into
allegations of electoral malpractices by
Nigerian Army personnel and allegations
of corruption associated with arms
procurement under the office of National
Security Adviser (NSA).

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The officers also noted that sometime
in June 2016, the Nigeria Army under the
leadership of the troika of Ali, Olonisakin
and Buratai presided over an abrupt
sitting of the Army Council that saw to the
punishment by compulsory retirement of
the 38 senior officers of the Nigerian Army.
The petitioners also told President Buhari
that after their unjust retirement, some
of the officers wrote letters of redress for
the president’s matured consideration
of their individual cases, through the
Chief of Defence Staff as provided by the
Harmonised Terms and Conditions of
Service (Officers) 2012 but the military
authorities deliberately refused to show
proof of transmitting the said letters to the
president as required by regulations.
The petitioners argued that even though
it was claimed that these officers were
“retired”, they were actually dismissed
going by the proper construction of their
circumstances.
“I must point out that the very public

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nature of the declaration of compulsory
retirement of the 38 officers has
undermined the individual reputations of
these senior army officers and frustrated
their respective efforts as securing a
livelihood for their families,” said Abdul
Muhammed, who signed the petition.
The petitioners told President Buhari
that 18 of the senior army officers that
were dismissed did not at any time appear
before any one of the two panels that were
set up or any other inquiry or investigation
for that matter.
According to the petition, “the 18 officers
were never investigated for any infraction,
they were never indicted, they were never
tried and they were never convicted of
any disciplinary or criminal breaches
whatsoever.
“Additionally, many of these officers
have no relationship whatsoever with
election duties or procurement office as
falsely alleged by army leadership. Most
importantly, Your Excellency, none of the
38 senior officers that were compulsorily
retired was at any time ever charged or
tried by a court martial or found guilty of
any offence in line with due process of the
armed forces extant rules and regulations,
before they respectively heard of their
retirement in the media. Interestingly, none
of these officers has been informed of the
particulars of any alleged offence till date,”
the petitioners explained.
The affected officers also recalled that
some of them had written to the army
authority to furnish them with facts that
constitute any alleged offence, but the army
failed to respond to this simple request one
year after.
“After the very public dismissal of the
38 senior army officers, the Minister of
Defence and the Chief of Army Staff went
to the media with the narrative that the 38
army officers were professionally corrupt
and that these officers were punished after
due process.
These are untrue statements because the
dismissed officers were never indicted
or found culpable at all as there was
a complete failure to follow the due
processes laid down by the Nigeria army
with respect to these wrongful and illegal

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dismissals.
They told President Muhammadu
Buhari thus: “Your Excellency, in fact
records of the Army will confirm that
at the relevant periods some of these
38 retired officers were actually in the
frontline of North Eastern operations
waging war against terror which earned
them official commendations and
accolades for their exploits, as against
the narrative of participating in election
duties.”
“Several others in the list of petitioners
were on Army posting outside the
shores of Nigeria or civil studies during
the period of the General elections
and during the entire periods that the
relevant panels were sitting in Kaduna
and at Abuja,” the petitioners explained.
They accused Ali, Olonisakin and
Buratai of gross act of abuse of office
without any due process by punishing
innocent officers and deliberately
misleading the President.
The petitioners appealed to President
Buhari to order an urgent investigation
and reinstatement of the innocent officers,
alleging that the names of innocent
officers were substituted in place of the
guilty ones in a case of gross corruption
and abuse of office.The petitioners also disclosed that after
one-year of persistent abuse and denial
of justice to the 38 retired officers, one of
them, Lt Col Baba-Ochankpa died of a
heart attack while the military leadership
deliberately refused to forward his appeal
and that of others to the president for his
matured consideration as stipulated by
the Harmonised Terms and Condition
of Service (Officers) 2012 which was the
quoted basis for their retirement.
“Your Excellency, the 38 Senior Army
Officers are crying for justice as promised
to Nigerians by your administration.
The widow of Lt. Col Baba-Ochankpa
(Mrs. Ruth Baba-Ochanpka) deserves
justice. The children of the late Lt Col
Baba- Ochanpka, Master Joshua Baba –
Ochankpa, Miss Esther Baba-Ochankpa
and Miss Abigail Baba-Ochankpa
deserve our justice. These beautiful
children deserve to have removed the
stain that the present Army leadership
has put on the memory of their father
the late Lt Col Baba-Ochanpka,” the
petitioners added.
In the light of these serious allegations
against key military and Defence officials,
it is only just, fair and good in morality
and the law that President Muhammadu
Buhari considers their plea for thorough
investigation so as not to damage the
professionalism of the Nigeria Army.
Besides, Section 15(5) of the
Constitution of Nigeria stated in black
and white that the Nigerian State should
eradicate all corrupt practices and abuse
of office. The Nigerian President as
the father of the nation for now must
provide remedial redress to these 38
Army officers.


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