Immediate past Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, has declared that he restored sanity in the Nigerian Army during his tenure.
Gen. Minimah said the Army under his command took unusual measures to rescue the Service from collapse, citing the setting up of various military courts martial to try officers and soldiers for offences of mutiny, cowardice and indiscipline as part of measures to achieve the feat.
The ex-COAS stated this at the Army Headquarters, Abuja yesterday, during the handover ceremony to his successor, Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
He said: “As I hand over today, I am happy to inform you that the Boko Haram terrorists’ insurgency is at a certain defeat. During my tenure, we were able to reclaim all territories earlier lost to the terrorists, sufficiently degrade their potency and reduced them to a band of criminals and petty thieves. Success did not come cheap. It came with the sweat and blood of all of us. In the face of unusual events, we had to take unusual actions.
“Some may adjudge us as being too strict especially in dealing with cases of cowardice and indiscipline in the field. But, we had to do what we must to arrest the drift towards chaos that the Army was heading. I am happy that the result in the field today justifies our actions. Today I am leaving behind an Army that can hold its own against any adversary without batting an eyelid. An Army that has vowed never again to concede any inch of Nigeria to terrorists. It is a legacy I am leaving behind and I implore you to sustain it.”
Military courts martial became unpopular but the ex-military chief said he took the step because the action became necessary in the face of insecurity challenge caused by Boko Haram terrorists so that Army personnel involved in the ongoing counterinsurgency operation in the North-East will know that they have a responsibility to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and not to chicken out, and that the measures which were adopted against cowardice and indiscipline became necessary to prevent the Army from drifting towards anarchy.
Minimah said he was leaving behind an Army that could be entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country against any enemy.
He said the Army under him reclaimed all territories erstwhile occupied by the insurgent in addition to weakening them and reducing drastically, their fighting potential, stressing that the insurgents were faced with certain defeat.
According to Minimah, the situation was not helped by low troops’ morale, and the tendency of soldiers to flee the battle field at the advance of the enemy which made it imperative for the drastic steps taken by the military leadership to deal decisively with terrorism and criminality in the country.
Minimah hinted that some very senior officers of the Army might have been given notices of retirement; he did not give the number of those affected by the exercise, even as he urged those affected to take the notifications for retirement in good faith.
Meanwhile, his successor, Maj.-Gen. Buratai, assured Minimah that priority would be given to the maintenance of discipline in the Army under him, urging troops to maintain discipline in military operations.
Buratai said: “Your tenure as COAS has brought discipline into the Army. Discipline must be maintained. The highest standard of discipline must be maintained,” he said.
Similarly, former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, formally handed over to his successor, Maj.-Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin yesterday, while the new Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas and his Air Force counterpart, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, would take over leadership of their respective services on Tuesday.