Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigeria military has said that it has set in place administrative processes to investigate allegations of a plot to overthrow the democratically elected government and purported attempts by politicians to influence office and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
This is just as it assured Nigerians that no coup dâ€™etat or take over of government will be supported or encouraged by the Armed Forces.
In a joint press briefing convened by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) and Nigerian Army in Abuja wednesday, the military also asked Nigerians not to nurse any fear or apprehension about the prospects of the militaryâ€™s incursion in politics.
Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, accompanied by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, who both addressed the press, said the military would remain loyal and subordinate to constituted authority and the Nigerian Constitution.
The move to allay concerns came amid rumblings of a possible coup, following fears over President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s ill health and his prolonged absences from the country to get treatment for his ailment, which has never been disclosed.
The allegation of a military takeover was given further fillip when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, warned his officers and soldiers against hobnobbing with unnamed politicians, whom he alleged were trying to influence them into engaging in unprofessional conduct.
Burataiâ€™s statement was followed by warnings and condemnation by the British government, Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the Pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo; civil society groups; and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, among others, of the severe consequences of a military misadventure.
Addressing the concerns, Enenche said: â€œWhat I have told you people on behalf of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is that nobody should be afraid of any coup.
â€œThe Armed Forces are totally loyal to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and in complete subordination to civil authority, and all levels of command are out there administering our troops to remain focused and be conscious of the oath of allegiance that we have taken, guided by the constitution of this country.
â€œThatâ€™s my final remarks to you to build on that and then reassure the general public that thereâ€™s nothing like that and nothing like that will ever be supported and will never be encouraged.
â€œIf thereâ€™s sign of anything like that, there are extant and guiding rules and procedures which we normally follow.
â€œFinally, we are not in a different world from what is happening all over the world, our Armed Forces, the present crop of officers and soldiers are modelled along best practices.
â€œWe are in tune with international best practices of governance and thatâ€™s democracy, democracy, democracy and we are for it.â€
Providing further clarity, Enenche added: â€œProfessionally, it is a commandâ€™s responsibility to caution officers and men on a routine basis to conform to the ethics of the military in all ramifications, which includes interactions and exchange of visits, among others.
â€œThis command responsibility is exercised right from the highest echelon such as the office of the service chiefs down to the lowest levels of the command, hence, the caution from the army in this case.
â€œSecondly, administratively, officers and men are regularly cautioned to exercise command and control by appropriate superior authorities through commanders at various levels.
â€œThis is to prevent members of the armed forces from derailing from their core focus of total dedication to their oath of allegiance. Thus, it is usual practice in military administration.
â€œHowever, it is pertinent to state that if there are signs of actions that point to likely breaches of the military code of conduct as it were, cautions or warnings are issued with possible investigations following.
â€œThus, in the present situation, the Armed Forces and the army in particular have employed due process to ensure that officers and men remain committed to performing their constitutional roles.
â€œAs such, the mere mention of a coup plot from some quarters is an assertion which is not confirmed.
â€œAt this juncture, let me assure all Nigerians and lovers of this country that the Armed Forces are and will remain totally loyal to the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and in complete subordination to civil rule.
â€œFurthermore, all fears about a coup should be allayed as the contemporary Nigerian military is abreast with the best international practices in governance, which is democracy.
â€œIn this regard, the military high command and other levels of command will continue to ensure effective training and administration, to ensure that the Armed Forces of Nigeria retains its place of pride among the military globally.â€
Though Enenche did not provide a detailed account of an investigation, he said: â€œWhat I can tell you is that as I said earlier, we have set in place, as it were for this case, administrative machinery to unravel the alleged coup plot and infiltration of the military by politicians.â€