There is a reported unease in the Nigerian Army after over 200 senior officers from the rank of lieutenant colonels to major generals were said to have been ordered to proceed on compulsory retirement.
The Tribune, citing military sources reported that the order followed a directive from the chief of army staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, to the military secretary of the army to serve notice of retirement to officers who went through the Nigerian Military School (NMS), Zaria (a secondary school) where they spent five years.
The sources said the army chief directed that the five years the affected officers spent as secondary school students in the military school be added to their years of military service.
Newsmen learned that the army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, was also affected the directive along with over 200 officers.
A source told the Tribune on Saturday, February 9, that the decision which affected officers that were as a result of a new policy of the federal government.
The source dismissed suggestions that policy was targeted at army officers, noting that other services are expected to comply with the policy, but were yet to do so.
The affected officers were said to have received their disengagement letters effective from February 8, 2019, while their terminal leave was supposed to be from that day, but some of them were given March 8, 2019, to sort things out and then leave the service.
Inside sources said the government policy was based on the argument that while the officers were in the Nigeria Military School (NMS), they were being paid salary and that therefore their years of service had started counting by then.
However, the policy was said to have caused controversy as there were reports that most of the affected soldiers did not go to the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) directly from the school as some of them opted to go to the university to obtain degrees before joining the army.
The decision was also faulted by some of the ex-boys from NMS, who were later commissioned as officers on the ground that they were given only three to four days notice before been asked to proceed on compulsory retirement.
Another source complained that the affected officers have been asked to go on mass retirement without completing their mandatory 35 years or attaining the 60 years age ceiling.
Some of the affected officers were reported to have taken their case to the National Assembly, which summoned the Military Secretary (Army) F. Yahaya.
Yahaya was said to have told the National Assembly that there was nothing he could do about the policy as it was a directive from the military authorities.
In another news report, the defense headquarters of the Nigerian Army has released guidelines for its staff during the coming general elections.
The military said that it will carry out its duties during the elections with neutrality and impartiality throughout the coming general polls and zero tolerance for unprofessional conducts from any soldier.
The Nigeria Army said that it will not tolerate any unprofessional conduct from soldiers during and after the polls
(Photo credit: Nigerian Army).