Again, ‘unjustly’ dismissed Nigerian soldiers petition Buhari, demand justice

Nigerian Army on patrol

‎Some Nigerian army officers, dismissed under controversial circumstances in June 2016, have forwarded another petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, further to separate appeals made over a year before now.

This latest petition came well over one year after ‎after nothing came from the separate appeals to Mr. Buhari.

The Nigerian Army had last year abruptly ended the careers of 38 officers by compulsory retirement over allegations of professional misconduct during the 2015 general election and involvement in arms procurement fraud.

However, PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation revealed some of the officers, including one of the country’s brightest in external and internal security operations, were forced out of service without recourse to the armed forces rules of disengagement.

Most of the affected officers were neither queried nor indicted by any panel, but were dismissed for reasons that reportedly smacked of high-level arbitrariness, witch-hunting and partisanship by authorities of the Army.

The irate officers thereafter petitioned Mr. Buhari in keeping with the armed forces rules to seek redress.

But even so, a year after their petitions were delivered to the presidency, their fates still hang in the balance.

One of the affected officers, Ojebo Baba-Ochankpa, died, while waiting for justice, in January this year.

In the fresh petition dated August 22, the affected officers said “the Nigerian Army being an institution requiring highest level of integrity and honour must not be allowed to be manipulated under any guise to attain personal objectives such as witch-hunt and victimisation without any factual basis as in the case of the retired officers.

“Additionally, our fighting men and women deserve at all times without any discrimination the fullest protection provided by the Nigerian Constitution and Nigerian laws.”

Stating further, the officers expressed concern that their earlier petitions to the president may have never been delivered by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, who has the statutory duty to forward same.

Mr. Olonisakin had in July defied a ruling of the Industrial Court, which had asked him to show evidence of transmitting the officers’ petitions to the president, who was then receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment.

The president returned to Nigeria last Saturday.

The affected soldiers alleged the “troika of the minister of defence, chief of defence staff and chief of army staff replaced corrupt officers with innocent ones.”

They added that an investigation directed by the president would reveal “the most egregious misconduct and misapplication of delegation powers” by the military authorities.

While Mr. Buhari was away on medical vacation, the officers had also written then-acting president Yemi Osinbajo, demanding justice, like they asked Mr. Buhari in the their latest appeal.

Similarly, the officers have also petitioned the presidential committee set up to investigate Nigerian military’s compliance with human rights obligations and rules of engagement.

“If the soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army cannot enjoy the clear protections of their rights under the present leadership of the Nigerian Army, then Nigerians must accept this may continue with a pattern of abuse that is chillingly mirrored inside and outside the Nigerian Army,” read the petition sighted by PREMIUM TIMES.


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