Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday denied reports that 200 Christian officers were secretly retired by the Nigerian Army recently. It also debunked insinuations that there was unease and disquiet in the military over the development.
A statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information (DDI), Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said allegations of lopsided recruitment, postings, appointments and retirement of military personnel by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) were unfounded.
The statement entitled: “Re: Secret Premature Retirement of Christian Officers,” said the reports, without recourse to the truth, accused the Nigerian Army of systematic retirement of over 200 officers from a particular geo-political zone and religion in the first quarter of 2019.
“It is imperative to correct the erroneous impression being created in the mind of some members of the public. Therefore, it is important to reiterate that postings, appointments and retirements in the military are routine activities and common public knowledge.
“Every officer, soldier, rating, airman or woman on commission or enlistment into the services look forward to an exciting, adventurous and rewarding career in the Armed Forces and most importantly knows exactly when he or she is due to retire,” he said.
Nwachukwu said “officers, soldiers, ratings, airmen and women are not only conscious of this but look forward to it. Personnel often retire based on age on rank or length of service.
“In the event of approaching retirement, the affected person or persons are given adequate notice and also prepared for life after service through training programmes at either the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, or Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi.
“Therefore, it is irresponsible for anyone to allege that such exercises were targeted at a particular ethnic group or religion”.
The statement said the publication was sponsored by unpatriotic individuals and ignorant elements while maintaining that there was no such situation that would bring about “unease or disquiet” in the military as contained in the report.
“Similarly, recruitment and enlistment into the Armed Forces of Nigeria have always been made known to the public and follows transparent and well known procedures that are in line with best practices.
“We expected the writer to make effort of finding out the truth before misleading unsuspecting members of the public through such publication. He should have taken advantage of the various public affairs departments of the Services to enquire about such issues”, he said.
Defence Headquarters said “although we are not mindful of the fact that such write-ups are sponsored by some obviously unpatriotic and ignorant elements, it is instructive to state that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remain the cohesive and bastion of national unity and no amount of campaign of calumny would change that. Such things are alien and blasphemous in the military.
“More also, the allegation of “unease and disquiet in the military formation” is not only untrue, but sheer mischief.
“The public is implored to please disregard such insinuations as there are proper career plan and progression in the military, therefore, there is no such thing like premature retirement or deliberate attempt to cleanse a particular ethnic or religious group in any of the services”.