How Nigerian govt can correct injustice meted out to senior army officers

How Nigerian govt can correct injustice meted out to senior army officers

It is now more than five years since the Nigerian Army forced 38 senior officers out of service, an action the court has repeatedly declared to be illegal. Following the court judgements and repeated appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari for redress by the affected officers, PREMIUM TIMES can report that the matter has become a subject of memos exchanged in the high government circles, including the presidency, the justice ministry, and the defence headquarters.

Letters seen by PREMIUM TIMES suggest that the reality of the arbitrariness, as well as its consequent implications, is not clear to the authorities. For example, in a letter dated July 6, 2021, to the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, admitted to the impropriety of the military’s action against the 38 officers, many of them the country’s finest.

In the letter, Mr Irabor, a general, mentioned court judgements for the reinstatement of the officers that the authorities have continued to disregard and said, if that continues, it would affect the psyche and motivation of serving and future personnel of the armed forces.

PREMIUM TIMES also understands that Mr Buhari has, through his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, sought advice from the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on how to ensure justice. Subsequently, Mr Malami has sought comment from the defence chief, Mr Irabor. Insiders said Mr Irabor has claimed difficulty in determining the best course of action to handle the matter.

PREMIUM TIMES obtained submissions from military sources, including serving and retired officers, who suggested ways they said the authorities could take to deliver justice. These ways are summarised below:

Those Senior officers that have reached their Run Out Date

All affected senior officers of the rank of Major Generals that have reached their run out date should have their retirement converted to Voluntary Retirement and effective from their actual run out date. Outstanding salary up until the effective date of voluntary retirement should then be paid to them.

Senior officers of the rank of Brigadier Generals that have reached their run out date should be promoted to voluntary retirement in the rank of Major General. Voluntary Retirement should be effective from their run out date or date of exit of their course mates while their salary is paid up till the date of voluntary retirement.

Those that still have Active Years of Service Left

a. Immediate reinstatement of unjustly retired officers with years of Active Service left and with an immediate promotion to their respective next higher rank – this is to ensure justice to them by putting their careers back on course as all the victimized officers are already behind their coursemates by at least one promotion due to no fault of theirs.

b. Those that are already 2 ranks down relative to their coursemates should be promoted to their second rank under special consideration using only one-year Personal Evaluation Report – thus, a second promotion after one year of reinstatement.

c. Payment of all outstanding salary/allowances from Jun 9, 2016, till the date of reinstatement.

d. Outstanding career courses ie National Defence College (NDC) should be undertaken with their promoted rank – after Immediate promotion to brigadier general, those yet to do NDC will undertake NDC abroad or attend the National Institute at Kuru with their Brig-Gen ranks. Similarly, the Colonels that are due for the same course should also be nominated to attend either overseas Colleges or National Institute.

The Late Officer – Lieutenant Colonel Baba-Ochankpa

a. Posthumous promotion to immediate next rank effective his promotion due date.

b. Classification of his death as Active-Duty Death, as he was supposed to be serving at the time of occurrence.

b. Payment of all outstanding salary/allowances from Jun 9, 2016, to the time he died.

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