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Nigerian Army Gives Reasons For Dismissal of 22 Senior Officers

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The Nigerian Army has finally given reasons why it retired some senior army officers in June this year.

An investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the reasons include alleged money laundering, arms procurement scam, illegal sale of military vehicle and professional misconduct in election matters.

The Army Council had compulsorily retired 38 senior officers in June, with the Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a colonel, saying that the officers were dismissed on the grounds of arms procurement fraud and professional misconduct in the 2015 elections.

But investigation revealed that most of the affected officers were never queried nor indicted by any panel but rather were sent away for reasons that showed high-level arbitrariness, pettiness, witch-hunting and partisanship by Army authorities.

In the statement released by the army to confirmed the retirement exercise, there was no specific reason given for retiring each of the officers.

Even in the June 9 dismissal letter – seen by PREMIUM TIMES – given to the affected officers, there was no specific reason, other than reference to Paragraph 09.02c(4) of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers 2012, which is “disciplinary grounds i.e. serious offence”.

But official documents filed by the Army in court and seen by this newspaper showed the actual reasons the Army gave for sending at least 22 of the officers away.

Nwokoro Ijioma (N/8304), Major General, was accused of “illegal sale of 17 military vehicles.” The duo of Ohifeme Ejemai (N/8340), Major General, and A.S. Saad (N/8392), Brigadier General, were compulsorily retired for “fraud and money laundering”.

LM Bello (N/8799), another Brigadier General, was retired for “arms procurement (fraud)/ distortion and partisanship”.

Three other Brigadier Generals, A. Onibasa (N/9072), D. Abdulsalam (N/9165) and Idam Agachi (N/8780) were respectively retired because they “engaged in acts of corruption.”

However, “money laundering” was added for Mr. Agachi.

For Peter Ekpeyong (N/8730), O.U. Nwankwo (N/9678), Feyisetan Kayode (N/9344), M.A. Suleiman (N10030) and Tobiah Minimah (N/10185), all Colonels, “disciplinary grounds” were cited as reasons for their compulsory retirement.

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Apart from “disciplinary grounds”, Mr. Minimah, a brother of a former Army Chief, Kenneth Minimah, was also alleged to have been involved in “partisan election” – same allegation faced by D.R. Hassan (N/9909), C.K. Ukoha (N/10319) and Timothy Oladuntoye (N/10338), also Colonels.

Then, five Lieutenant Colonels – Chinonye Amadi (N10359), O.A. Ochankpa (N/10419), K.O. Adimoha (N/10421) A. Mohammed (N/10659) and Abubakar Mohammed (N/10662) – were also accused of “involvement in election matters”.

The two remaining Lt. Colonels, D.B. Dazang (N/10414) and T.E. Arigbe (N/10416) had their careers brought to an abrupt end for “disciplinary issues”.

However, contrary to the Army’s claims, -PREMIUM TIMES’ findings show that at least 15 of the 22 officers seeking redress were not indicted by any panel before they were dismissed.

Among the 15, only Brigadier General A. Saad actually appeared before a panel. Even he was, however, cleared by the arms procurement probe panel. None of the other 14 were queried or invited to appear before any panel, a contravention of Army rule.

“These charges are new to us,” one of the dismissed officers said.

“Nobody ever mentioned it or accused any of us, at least not me, before we were dismissed,” he added.

The fifteen who were never indicted are Messrs. Ijioma and Ejemai (Major Generals); Messrs. Saad, Bello, Abdulsalam, and Agachi (Brigadier Generals); Messrs Nwankwo, Minimah, Ukoha, Oladuntoye, and Suleiman (Colonels); and Messrs Ochankpa, Adimoha, A. Mohammed, and Abubakar Mohammed (Lieutenant Colonels).

Two others who were neither queried nor indicted by any panel, as our investigations revealed, were not among the 22 who sought redress. Mormoni Bashir (N/8396), a former principal staff officer to ex-National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, and I. Lawson (N/8812), a Defense Attache in China did not appeal their dismissals.

The 22 who are seeking redress have already written to the President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to a July letter by the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, to President Muhammadu Buhari, the 22 officers complained that Army authorities breached laws in ending their careers abruptly.

Except Mr. Efemai who prefers voluntary retirement, the officers are praying the president to consider their appeals and reinstate them into the army.

This report was first published by PREMIUM TIMES.

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