Nigeria’s Service Chiefs have been told to prepare their handover notes and leave office without further delays. The frontline rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety), made the demand in a statement on Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Onitsha, in which it argued that the military chiefs have not only failed woefully but are also due for retirement based on both age and years of service.
“The Nigerian Military Service Chiefs, comprising Chief of Defense Staff, Lt Gen Abayomi Olanisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar have long overstayed and therefore must prepare their grossly belated handover notes and leave the office. Beyond this urgent call for the country’s military Service Chiefs to immediately prepare their handover notes and leave office, the entire security forces of Nigeria (defense, policing, intelligence, and paramilitaries) and their commanding and controlling structures are also found to be terminally sick requiring total overhaul or reorganization.
“The country’s Military Service Chiefs have, as a matter of fact, become ‘a big masquerade that has overstayed his welcome at entertainment arena, thereby attracting pouring of sand by children and booing by women of non menopausal age’,” the Intersociety said in the statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Barr Damaris Amaka Onuoha, Head of Campaign & Publicity; Barr Ndidiamaka Bernard, Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights; and Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law.
The special statement further reads: “Having woefully failed the country and her citizens particularly in matters of defense and safety of the citizens, their properties and the country’s land, water, air and wild spaces, it has become inexcusable and beyond logics and sentiments for the Service Chiefs to pack and go. Borrowing the masterful words of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Int’l Freedom of Religion or Belief, “the 90% Muslim controlled Nigerian security forces” must be surgically reorganized from their present radically religious and clannish lines to secular, professional and ICT-powered or ‘man-mental-technological lines.
“We are also not unaware of renewed ‘permanent tenure extension for Service Chiefs campaigns’, mounted on their behalf by some citizens and groups including the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan; all in a bid to see them continue in office in perpetuity. The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, had on Sunday, 21st June 2020 while speaking to the State House correspondents after his meeting with the Presidency, disclosed that he “suggested for the extension of the tenure of the current service chiefs within a performance assessment timeframe”.
“Under the watch and leadership of the Senate President, too, the sectional and religious balancing principle (federal character) stipulated in Sections 14 (3), 217 (3) and 42 (freedom from discrimination) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution has been brutally set aside and observed in breach as all the legislative oversight committees in charge of army, navy, air force, police, intelligence, defense, interior, national security, customs, immigration, and other paramilitaries are dominated, if not all headed by Northern Muslims. This is a country composed of proportionate multi religious and ethnic groupings and constitutionally said to have been founded on multi party democracy and secular constitutionalism.
“Therefore, the Senate President must be boldly told in clear terms that he lacks moral ground or competence to canvas for the extension of the tenure of the woefully failed Nigeria’s Service Chiefs or speak on insecurity in the country. These attempts by the Service Chiefs themselves and their image launderers including their ‘permanent tenure extension’ seekers or campaigners are not only unknown to Nigeria’s body of laws recognized in Sections 4 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, but also grossly run contrary to the principles of democracy and rule of law.
“By attempting to perpetuate themselves in office through the antics of anti democratic forces and processes, the Service Chiefs have proclaimed themselves as “life Service Chiefs until they die in office”. This is the express and interpretative meaning of Section 11.09 of the Service Chiefs and Presidency enacted “Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces (2017) Revised”. Also called “H-TACOS (2017) Revised”, the non-National Assembly Act and inferior instrument had in its referenced Section provided as follows: “the forgoing notwithstanding, the President, C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a Chief of Defense Staff/ Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service”.
“This is after the President has renewed their two years tenure from their first appointment. It further means that they can continue to be reappointed endlessly by a serving President and any or others after him or her especially if he or she installs a crony as his or her successor. This is also coupist and stranger to the 1999 Constitution, as an unwelcomed interloper. With this, too, the Nigerian Military is no longer ‘a substituted authority’ to Nigeria’s Civil and Democracy Authority. It further undermines Nigeria’s Public/Civil Service Rules of 2008 and other relevant Acts including the Nigerian Armed Forces Act, Military Pensions and general Pensions, and Labor Acts; all of 2004 as well as global or ILO’s age long ‘career service and pension principles’.
“40,000 Defenseless Citizens Slaughtered Under Their Watch
“Apart from the undiluted fact that generality of Nigerians have remained confused as to whether the country’s Service Chiefs, heads of intelligence agencies and the Police and their commanding officers are truly engaged in counterinsurgency operations or ‘insurgency support operations’ or ‘conflict profiteering; as people of research and statistics, we are aware that not less than 40,000 defenseless citizens of Nigeria irrespective of their religions and tribes, genders, ages and classes, have been killed outside the law since July 2015 when the Service Chiefs were appointed. This is due to defense, security, safety and policing lapses under the midwifery of the current Security Chiefs. There were also billions of naira worth of properties lost including over 2000 sacred worship and learning centers mostly belonging to Christians.
“The lives lost included not less than 9000 victims of Jihadist Herdsmen violence (all Christians), 9000 victims of Boko Haram violence (approximately 5,000 Christians and 4000 Muslims), estimated 4000 victims of Zamfara/Northern banditry in Muslim dominated States of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Northern Kaduna (about 80% Muslims) and hundreds killed by Ansaru Jihadists (majorly Christians and foreigners). The Nigerian Military under the current Service Chiefs also directly or vicariously killed not less than 2,500 citizens outside the law. They included not less than 1300 defenseless Shiite Muslims, 480 Eastern Nigerian Judeo-Christian citizens, 300 rural Northern Christians (air bombing), 240 detainees at Borno’s Giwa Barracks (AI Report 2016) and over 500 civilian victims of the Military’s “counterinsurgency operations”.
“The Nigerian State was also plunged into “militarism” and “militarization” by the archaic defense and security policies of the Service Chiefs resulting to pseudo ‘police state’. As a result, it has been independently projected that average of 250 Nigerians die monthly (3000 yearly) in police (mostly) and military (some) custodies across the country following indiscriminate use of excessive force, torture, hate policing and commercialization of criminal investigations.
“These have led to estimated 15,000 non court-convicted citizens dying in custodies since July 2015. The number of those killed in civil crimes or crimes against persons and properties including murder, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and communal violence is also in multiple thousands; likewise victims of disappearances. In the outgoing first six months of 2020, not less than 1500 innocent and defenseless lives have been lost. They included not less than 600 Christians massacred by Jihadist Herdsmen, over 500 Muslims and Christians killed by Boko Haram/ISWAP and at least 400 mainly Muslims killed by ‘Zamfara/Northern Muslim Bandits’. Excluded are hundreds, if not thousands of victims of ‘Civil Crimes’ and Communal Violence.
“Service Chiefs’ Tenure Is Manipulated Using H-TACOS (2017)
“It is our discovery that the so-called “Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces (H-TACOS 2017) Revised”; revised in 2017 by the current Service Chiefs and the Presidency is now being used as an instrument for elongation of the tenure and retirement ages of Nigeria’s current Service Chiefs and certain categories of senior military officers. These have also led to career stagnancy and discriminatory implementation of the ‘in-service’, ‘out-service’, and ‘out-of-service’ processes including whereby some course mates are retired while their colleagues including those of Regular Combatant Courses 25 to 29 are left behind to continue serving.
“A non National Assembly legislation or Act of parliament, “H-TACOS” was majorly tinkered or ‘reviewed’ in 2012 while its present version in use was revised in 2017. The instrument had in 2012 “scrapped” the 35 years of service requirement, a grand rule guiding the country’s public service, and introduced “Run-Out-Date (ROD)’ as a fundamental requirement for retiring from the Nigerian Armed Forces. Reviewed or revised in 2017 at the beck and call or whims and caprices of the current Service Chiefs and the Presidency without legislative scrutiny or debates or representative public queries, certain dictatorial provisions were inserted. They included increase in the retirement ages of different categories of senior military officers and technically endless tenure elongation for the current Service Chiefs.
“For instance, in the old or pre 2012 H-TACOS, the ROD (Run-Out-Date) or retirement date for Brigadier-General/Commodore/Air Commodore was 54, Major General/Rear Admiral/Air Vice Marshal-56, Lieutenant-General/Vice Admiral/Air Marshal-58 and General/Admiral/Air Chief Marshal-60. But under the 2012 H-TACOS, RODs were extended or further increased. By this, ROD for Regular Commissioned Officers under the H-TACOS for Brigadier-General or its equivalent was pegged at 56 years, Major- General or its equivalent-57, Lieutenant-General or its equivalent-59 and General or its equivalent remains 60.
“Yet, in its revision of 2017, under Section 03.10 (Length of Service), their retirement ages were again increased with those of Lt Generals (including Buratai, Olanisakin, Ibok Ibas and Abubakar Sadique) who are senior to senior officers under Course 36 Regular Combatant and others below pegged at 58 years, while those of Major Generals were pegged at 56 years. On the other hand, the Major Generals and Lt Generals belonging to Regular Combatant Course 36 and above were pegged at 60 and 61 years. The current Service Chiefs including Chief of Defense Staff, Lt Gen Abayomi Olanisakin, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibak and Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai belong to Regular Combatant Courses (RC) 25, (RC) 26 and (RC) 29 having joined the NDA, then NCE awarding military institution in 1979 and 1981.
“For clarity, the revised edition of “H-TACOS (2017)” was to start with the 36th Course of the NDA, their equivalents and above. The 36th Course members were the first set to start full degree programs at the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA). Before then, Courses 1 to 35 including COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (Regular Combatant Course 29 of 1981) and CDS, Lt Gen Abayomi Olanisakin (Regular Combatant Course 25 of 1979) studied and graduated with the National Certificate in Education (NCE) from the institution. That is to say that while Course 36 and above will benefit from all the provisions of the HTACOS (2017), their seniors, Courses 1 to 35, will not have the full benefits.
“The current Service Chiefs also provided for themselves and in conspiracy of the Presidency, ‘life tenure of office’. This is according to Sections 11.08 and 11.09 of the H-TACOS (2017) Revised, under ‘Tenure of Defense & Service Chiefs’. According to Section 11.08: “an officer appointed the Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Naval Staff shall be a four-star General and may hold the appointment for a continuous period of two years and the C-in-C may extend such an appointment for another period of two years from the date of the expiration of two years period”. Inserted ‘Section 11.09’ presently provides as follows: “the forgoing notwithstanding, the President, C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a Chief of Defense Staff/ Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service”. Intersociety further gathered from a source conversant with the 2017 ‘revision’ of the instrument that the two present sections were smuggled into the H-TACOS of 2017 and not included in its previous versions.
“H-TACOS As Constitutional Interloper
“The powers of Mr. President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of its Armed Forces to appoint ‘Service Chiefs’ are contained in Sections 18 of the Armed Forces Act, Chapter A20, LFN 2004 and 218 (2) of the 1999 Constitution. The Constitution also firmly directed in Section 217 (3) that “the composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria”. By Section 17, “the State Social Order is founded on the ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Justice” and by Section 15 (5), “the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”.
“However, nowhere in the named Sections 18 of the Armed Forces Act and 218 (2) of the Constitution is the Presidency or President or his Service Chiefs empowered or authorized to make any law or regulation or rules for the regulation of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The National Assembly; not the President or Presidency or the CDS and other Service Chiefs, is constitutionally empowered to do so. That is to say that the Nigerian Armed Forces ‘Terms and Conditions of Service’ is not only dead on arrival but also null and void having risen in grave conflict with the Sections 1 (3) and 218 (4) of the 1999 Constitution and 18 of the Armed Forces Act of 2004. As a matter of fact, Section 218 (4) of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to “make laws for the regulation of the powers exercisable by the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation including appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the Armed Forces of the Federation”.
“Service Chiefs Must Leave Office At Once
“The void and nullity of “H-TACOS (2017)” particularly its “Sections 11.08 and 11.09” (tenure renewal and permanent elongation) expressly lies in its gross inconsistency with Section 18 of its mother law, the Armed Forces Act, Chapter A20, LFN 2004 and Section 218 (4) of the 1999 Constitution. This is because nowhere in the said Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act is contained or found the extension of the tenure of the Service Chiefs or permanent elongation of their tenure. Therefore, the power of the Presidency or President to renew the tenure of the Service Chiefs is unconstitutional, illegal, and null and void and of no effect.
“Consequently, the current Service Chiefs must leave office at once or without further delays. That is to say that the following persons: CDS, Lt Gen Abayomi Olanisakin, COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, CNS, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, having been appointed as “Service Chiefs” on 13th July 2015 or past five years have ceased to be the country’s “Service Chiefs” since 13th July 2019, both legally and illegally. By attaining their 35 years of service long ago, they have expired in the active military services of the Nigerian Armed Forces. By their appointment since 13th July, 2015 as ‘Service Chiefs’, they have also expired. By their own created “H-TACOS (2017)”, they have all clocked over 58 years of retirement age and therefore expired; and by their colossal failure in the country’s defense and security midwifery, they have expired and must leave the stage.
“Short Data Of Nigeria’s Service Chiefs
“For the record, Chief of Defense Staff, Lt Gen Abayomi Olanisakin joined the Nigerian Military School, Zaria in 1973 and later moved to NDA in 1979 as a member of the 25th Regular Combatant Course and was commissioned in 1981. He clocked 35 years of service in 2014 and said he was born on 2nd Dec 1961 or over 58 years ago. Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai joined the Nigerian Army, NDA, in Jan 1981, clocked his 35 years of service in Jan 2016, and was born on 24th Nov 1960. He will clock 60 years on 24th Nov 2020. Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar was born on 8th April 1960 or over 60 years. He joined the Nigerian Air Force in November 1979 and clocked 35 years of service in November 2014. Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibak was born on 27th November 1960 and joined the Nigerian Defense Academy as a member of 26 Regular Course on 20 June 1979. He was commissioned as sub-lieutenant on 1 January 1983 and will be 60 years on 27th November 2020 having clocked 35 years of service since 20th June 2014.”