UPDATED: Reps demand resignation of military chiefs

House of Reps. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the house of reps]
House of Reps. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the house of reps]

The House of Representatives on Wednesday called for the resignation of the nation’s service chiefs, amid widespread public discontent over growing insecurity in the country.

The House urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the military commanders if they failed to resign.

The resolution was reached following a motion of urgent public importance motion titled “Need to Curb the Incessant Attacks of the Boko Haram Insurgents in the North-East Zone,” and moved by the Chief Whip, Mohammed Mongunu, and 14 others.

Mr Mongunu decried the recent surge in attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east zone.

He said that the successes earlier recorded by the security agents which led to increased economic activities within the North-east zone is gradually being eroded by the resurgence of the insurgency in Borno and Yobe states.

“Recently, the insurgents have forced the Nigerian military to close traffic on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road for some days. The Damaturu-Maiduguri road is the only access from Maiduguri to other parts of Nigeria,” he said.

Defence Chief Abayomi Olonisakin, Army Chief Tukur Buratai, Navy Chief Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, and Air Chief Sadique Abubakar, were appointed on July 13, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But he has kept them in office despite public outcry. Based on the Armed Forces Terms and Conditions of Service, the tenures of the defence and service chiefs expired on July 13, 2017.

Also, Section 8 of the public service rules stipulates that the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service — whichever is earlier. In spite of this, each of the service chiefs has spent above the stipulated service years.

Defence Chief Olonisakin, 57, has spent 38 years in service. Army Chief Buratai and Navy Chief Ibas, both 59, have been in service for 36 years.

Air Chief Abubakar, 59, has 40 years of service to his name.

Debate

Abubakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa) of Birniwa/Guri/Kiri-Kasamma Federal Constituency said the security chiefs have failed on their mandate.

He argued that “doing the same thing over time without a tweak in tactic would yield the same result, and to expect something different is insanity.”

“Whether their tenures have expired or not, they should resign,” Mr Fulata said of the service chiefs. He also called for the withdrawal of all the security personnel serving in the North-east and their replacement with new personnel.

However, Abdurazaq Namdas (APC, Adamawa), who represents Jada/Ganye/MayoBelwa/Toungo Federal Constituency, opposed the idea of changing all the military personnel currently serving in the area, saying the experience they have garnered over the years is still needed to assist new personnel.

He said while the security situation as coordinated by the military is worrisome, there is a need to “retrain and equip the police to properly handle internal security in the country.”

In like manner, the member representing Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency of Borno State, Ahmadu Jaha, said his constituency is under the siege of insecurity.

He said the call for the service chiefs to resign is a long process. Only the “immediate replacement of the service chiefs” by the president can assuage the situation, he stressed.

To drive the points raised home, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), urged the House to convene a meeting with the military heads. He said this would allow the House know “what the commanders have been doing, their constraints and the position of the House”.

Resolution

Following the debate, in a unanimous resolve, the members of the Green Chamber, 37 of them as of the time of adoption, agreed that the service chiefs have no fresh ideas to tackle insecurity in the country. Hence, they called for their resignation.

Senators in the Upper House took the same position during the plenary on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the House also tasked its committee on defence to convene a meeting with the military commanders and President Buhari to further emphasise the House’s resolution.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the bulk stops on the president’s desk. We should pressure the service chiefs,” Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said while reading the resolution. “They (security chiefs) need to go. Let them come (for the meeting). We will hand them the resignation ourselves in case they said they did not hear.”


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