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Army retires 120 officers, others

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Over 120 major-generals, brigadiers, colonels, lieutenants, captains and others  have been ordered to proceed on compulsory retirement, or be summarily retrenched by the Nigerian Army.

The exercise is said to be in accordance with the Public Service Rules and the Armed Forces of Nigeria Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service, 2017 (Revised).

Mainly affected by the exercise were those who failed their promotion examinations after three attempts, have disciplinary cases, or had spent the mandatory 35 years in service.

The affected senior and middle level personnel are being issued their letters of compulsory retirement in batches.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that the first batch was given a deadline of 24th December to tender their retirement letters.

The affected personnel will proceed on a mandatory three-month pre-retirement leave from January.

The development has, however, generated concerns within the Army with many querying the rationale behind the mass retrenchment.

An officer accused the military authorities of disobeying a directive from the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami that the exercise should be suspended till after the 2023 elections. The elections hold on 25th February and 11th March 2023.

One of those affected said: “Over 120 top officers were served letters of mandatory retirement by the Army authorities. The affected officers include major-generals, brigadier-generals, brigadiers, colonels, captains and other middle-level officers, who were unable to pass their promotion examinations after three attempts.

“But there are two rules guiding this issue: if one fails to pass his promotion exams after three attempts, he could be considered on the basis of the years he has spent on the rank.

“Though the authorities informed us that those who failed to pass their exams would be considered on the basis of age on rank, they reneged on this and instead directed us to put in our voluntary retirement letters. This is not fair”.

Despite protesting the failure of the Army high command to comply with the rules, it was learnt that the personnel were mandated to tender their notices of voluntary retirement with the option to complain or appeal later.

Another source said the letters issued to the affected officers were signed by the Military Secretary, Army, Major General Jamaal Abdusalam.

He said: “The officers who were asked to submit letters of voluntary retirement were more than 100. The military directive was contained in a letter dated 24th October 2022 but it was served on them sometime in November.

“They were given a deadline of 24th December 2022 to tender their letters otherwise the Nigerian Army would compel them to go on compulsory retirement.  They are to commence their terminal leave from either February or March 2023.

“The reasons for the disengagement are varied. Some had to do with age on rank or cases of indiscipline and other reasons known to the Chief of Army Staff and the Military Secretary (Army).

“Some failed promotion examinations three times. For example, some brigadier-generals failed their promotion exams to major-general during their third and last attempt this year”.

There are indications that the aggrieved officers might have appealed to the Chief of Army Stadd, Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, and the President Muhammadu Buhari for extension of service in line with relevant rules.

Saturday PUNCH reports that the Director of Information, Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu did not respond to requests for comments on Friday, but a retired military officer and security expert, Colonel Hassan Stan-Labo pointed out that retirement was routine in the military.

“The army has a well laid out HATCOS regime, which applies to its personnel. So, it (retirement) is very normal; it is an annual thing; retirement, promotion and discipline are annual events in the Army calendar”, he explained.

Asked if the annual retirement of personnel without commensurate recruitment would not affect the Army’s operational capability, Stan-Labo said: “The Army cannot sacrifice anything for discipline. That you are holding an important position in relation to the ongoing war does not make you indispensable. There is a saying in the Army that nobody is indispensable.

“So, if at any point you think you are too much; you can be laid aside and another person will do it. Thank God Nigeria has a population of over 250 million, so we don’t lack manpower except that they are not recruiting as much as we expect in relation to the ongoing campaign. We expect that turnover will be high, so recruitment should be high”.

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