President Goodluck Jonathan has sacked the country’s four service chiefs, invoking the powers vested on him by the constitution and has announced their replacements.
According to a statement signed the special adviser to the President on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, Air Marshal Alex Badeh takes over from Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim as Chief of Defence Staff, while Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Minimah takes over from Lt.-General Azubike O. Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff.
Similarly, Rear Admiral Usman O. Jibrin takes over from Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba as Chief of Naval Staff; just as Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu takes over from Air Marshal Badeh as Chief of Air Staff.
No reason was given for the sudden changes which are with immediate effect, but human rights lawyer, Festus Keyamo had given the federal government a 14 day ultimatum to obey a court against the “illegal appointment of services chiefs by the president without being screened and approved by the National Assembly”.
Ruling on the suit filed by Keyamo, Justice A. Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in July 2013, ruled that the appointments of Service Chiefs without the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is null and void in line with Section 18(1) and (2) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The implication of the ruling according to the lawyer is that “all official actions taken by the Service Chiefs since the 1st of July, 2013, when judgment was delivered are null, void and of no effect in the eyes of the law.”
Keyamo had threatened to go back to the courts to enforce compliance if at the end of the 14days ultimatum the federal government refused to sack the service chiefs.
The ultimatum would have elapsed in five days time.
According to Abati, President Jonathan has briefed the leadership of the National Assembly on the appointment of the new Service Chiefs and has requested the legislature to formally confirm the appointments when it reconvenes, in keeping with the provisions of the law.