How Buratai, Olonishakin ‘unjustly’ retired 16 Generals despite Malami’s advice

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Nine Major Generals and seven Brigadier Generals ‘arbitrarily’ sacked by the Nigerian Army in 2016 for not justifiable reasons have been technically eased out of the service, despite interventions of Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

PRNigeria gathered that the affected generals have reached their run out date this year and cannot be reinstated into the military even after the resolutions of the National Assembly (NASS) and several courts ordered their reinstatements which were flagrantly ignored by the Nigerian Army.

The affected military generals were among the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired on 9 June 2016 without any cogent reason.

The other officers ‘technically’ eased out of service while waiting for justice are Major Generals F. O. Alli, E.J. Atewe, I.N. Ijioma, L.C. Ilo, T.C. Ude, L. Wiwa, S.D. Aliyu, M.Y. Ibrahim and O. Ejemai.

The Brigadier Generals arere D. M. Onoyeiveta, A.S.O. Mormoni-Bashir, A.S.H Sa’ad, L.M. Bello, K.A. Essien, B. A. Fiboinumama and I. M. Lawson.

Meanwhile, three brigadier Generals: D. Abdusalam, A. I. Onibasa and G.O. Agachi can still be reinstated as they still have active years to serve.

Several attempts by Malami, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to resolve the impasse between the Army Generals and their military authorities were also futile.

PRNigeria gathered from credible investigation that the Army Council, then presided by the trio of Mr. Mohammed Mansur Dan-Alli (then Minister for Defence), General AG Olonsakin (then Chief of Defence Staff) and Lt Gen TY Buratai (then Chief of Army Staff) sat and announced the compulsory retirement of the 38 Army officers.

The announcement of the compulsory retirement of the 38 officers was made via the media even before the affected officers were eventually informed by text messages of their retirement, sources revealed to PRNigeria.

While announcing the compulsory retirement to the media, the Nigerian Army claimed that the 38 Army officers that were compulsorily retired have been investigated and found professionally corrupt in defence procurement and/or election-related offences in the 2015 General Elections.

But one of the sources, with vast knowledge on the case, maintained that none of the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired was ever investigated or court-martialled before their public compulsory retirement.

The source, a senior serving military personnel, who asked not to be named, said: “None of the affected officers was ever at any time before their public compulsory retirement queried, notified of any culpability, or subjected to any military police investigation and none was ever court-martialed – these are the mandatory disciplinary process in the military as recognized by law!

“The Army records will show that none of the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired was ever charged with any infraction in accordance with expressed procedures in Armed Forces Act CAP A20 The Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

Another source, while confiding in PRNigeria, said that after their public retirement, many of the victimized officers wrote to the Army leadership under Lieutenant General Buratai, asking to be furnished with facts that constitute any alleged offense as stated in their respective letters of compulsory retirement, but regrettably, the Army failed to respond to this simple request over 5 years now.

“Some of the affected officers also sent letters of redress to both the Senate and the House of Representatives on the victimization of the 38 Army officers. The Nigerian Congress through their respective Public Petition Committees investigated the matter and were shocked that the Army could not provide any allegation of wrongdoing against the officers whose careers were publicly cut short.

“After their respective investigations of the matter, both Houses had admonished the Nigerian Army over arbitrary disengagement of officers without any wrongdoing and due process and warned that such abuse of office would discourage serving officers and soldiers from giving their full commitment to the service of the nation. Both chambers of the National Assembly further recommended the immediate reinstatement of the affected officers.

“The resolutions were duly forwarded to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Army Staff, but these resolutions of Congress have been completely ignored which indicates a deliberate pattern of abuse against these innocent officers,” he said.

Checks by PRNigeria indicates that after the refusal of the Nigerian army to reinstate the officers based on the resolutions of the National Assembly and court orders, Malami, through the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, wrote letters and reminders to the military authorities in October 2019, November 2020 and even in February 2021 seeking clarification “over grave acts of injustice and unlawful compulsory retirement from service Senior Officers.”

In one of the letters, which was also sighted by PRNigeria, Malami reminded the Army Chief that he was yet to receive any response for the initial letter he had sent, in order for him to advise Mr. President appropriately.