- Â US: Weâ€™re yet to respond to armyâ€™s report on rights abuse
Paul Obi and Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) thursday debunked allegations that service chiefs are illegally extending military careers of most of their course mates.
Reports earlier this week revealed a trend in which the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) had secretly extended the stay of their colleagues and close allies in the Armed Forces notwithstanding that they were all due for retirement.
However, DHQ Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, denied any such policy in the military.
He said: â€œThe attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to a report making the round in the media captioned: â€˜How Service Chiefs Illegally Extend Military Careers of Course Matesâ€™.
â€œThus, it has become necessary to clear this issue that was addressed particularly to the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air force.
â€œIt cited Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service (HTACOS) 2012, Paragraph 02: 10 (b) as justification for the assertion, which is a tabulation of the conditions relating to the length of service of a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
â€œHowever, it failed to give an insight into other sections of the paragraph that border specifically on extension of service for a commissioned officer.â€
Enenche stated that â€œin view of this kind of an unbalanced publication, the Defence Headquarters wishes to posit that paragraph 02:10 (d) of Armed Forces Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for officers 2012 is clear on the considerations for extending the length of service for officers, which are summarised as follows: â€˜An officerâ€™s career can be extended based on the interest of the Service, in this case, Army, Navy and Air force. In a very exceptional cases, an officerâ€™s career can be extended beyond one year for as long as necessary.
â€œExtension of service for officers can only be approved by the Service council/board comprising the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, the Service Chiefs, Service Director at Ministry of Defence and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.â€
He held that â€œextension of service for officers can also be at the discretion of the Commander in Chief. From the foregoing, I wish to state that there was no act of illegality perpetuated by the CAS, CNS or CAS regarding extending the length of service for officers.
â€œExtant guidelines and policies are always followed as laid out in the aforementioned document when the need arises. It is also worthy of note, that quite a good number of the officers mentioned in the article are no longer in service.
â€œOnly very few are still in service, in the interest of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, which is in line with Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers 2012, paragraph 02.10 (d).
â€œThe public is hereby re-assured that the service chiefs under the strategic leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff are focused and will remain so in tackling the security challenges of the nation, and would not be distracted by any means.â€
Meanwhile, the United States Government yesterday said it was yet to respond to the recent report by the Nigerian Army on human rights abuses in the Northeast and alleged murder of some members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), among others.
US embassy official, Russell Brooks, told THISDAY that â€œwe are aware of news reports concerning the Nigerian militaryâ€™s investigation.
â€œThe US has not issued a statement on the Nigerian militaryâ€™s investigation or its conclusions.â€
On the alleged refusal of visa to some Nigerian military officials over rights abuse, Brooks explained: â€œVisa records are confidential under US law. We do not discuss the details of individual visa cases.
â€œAll visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act and other applicable laws.â€