After The Trent broke the news of the summary sack of 200 military officers who leaned towards former President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections, the federal government and Nigerian Army went into panic mode.
Army authorities made frantic phone calls to The Trent requesting that the story, which was published as breaking news at about 12 midnight be withdrawn. Of course, the requests were denied because the news story is based on facts.
In panic, the Nigerian Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman issued a statement confirming our report which indicated that soldiers – mostly from the South South and South East region, with a few from the North Central, region – were profiled for allegedly being “pro-Jonathan” and dismissed from the military.
The statement signed by Colonel Usman and delivered to The Trent by email says the Nigerian Army has compulsorily retired some of its senior officers who have been investigated for being “investigated for partisanship in the 2015 general election” and for alleged corruption, the usual crime of all victims of President Muhammadu Buhari’s parochial and sectional government.
The statement released at about 12.43am on Saturday, June 11, 2016, says that some of those retired were major-generals, brigadier-generals, colonels, lieutenant-colonels and a major.
“The Nigerian army wishes to inform the general public that quite a number of senior officers of the Nigerian army were retired from service yesterday,” Colonel Usman said in the statement.
“Those retired were mainly some major generals, brigadier generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels and a major.
“Their retirement was based on service exigencies. It should be recalled that not too long ago some officers were investigated for being partisan during the 2015 general election.
“Similarly, the investigation by the Presidential Committee investigating defence contracts revealed a lot. Some officers have already been arraigned in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”
Usman appealed that Nigerians “should therefore not read this out of context”, saying “the military must remain apolitical and professional at all times”.
Ethnic Profiling In Buhari’s Army
There are indications on Friday, June 11, 2016 that about 200 military officers may have been sacked by the federal government through text messages (SMS) over their alleged loyalty to former President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 general elections.
They affected officers were said to have been carefully selected for backing Jonathan during the last 2015 general election.
Further checks in the military establishment in Abuja, also hinted that military officers who were believed to be loyal to the former national security adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki were also affected in the mass sacking.
The list showed that they were mainly from the South East, South South and a small percentage of them were from the North Central region of the country.
The development which is already causing some ripples in the military, according to political analysts, could cost the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration public goodwill.
A source said, “It is being seen as an act of ethnic card to checkmate those officers who were seen as posing danger to the federal government and it was resolved in the presidency that they should be weeded out.”
But the concern as some observers also said was the implication of the sack on the psyche of the military institution and the public which was felt capable of truncating the nation’s democracy as the “systematic sacking “ of over 200 top military officers mainly from the southern part of the country was a decision difficult to defend by the federal government.
“The affected officers were sent text messages relieving them of their jobs and they were directed to pick their sack letters at specific locations without any reason given for terminating their appointments,” said a source in the presidency which pleaded anonymity.
According to the source, the move allegedly masterminded by “some hawks“ in the presidency was aimed at weeding out all officers who were perceived to be loyal to the last regime and deemed to have played one role or the other favourable to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election.
“The game plan is to remove all vestiges of the old regime, particularly those officers considered to be too intelligent and smart to challenge the status quo.
“Buhari is weary of being toppled a second time, given his ugly past experience. But unknown to him, this latest move of indiscriminate sacking of senior and middle level officers has divided the military and created rumblings in some quarters,” the source stated.