The Senate yesterday asked Nigeria’s Service Chiefs to resign their positions following the deteriorating security situation in the country.
But the presidency quickly responded saying only President Muhammadu Buhari who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces has the right to decide the fate of his service chiefs.
However, senior officers, security experts and political scientists said Buhari should “listen to the voice of reason” by relieving the service chiefs of their appointments to pave the way for new hands and new ideas to tame the rising insecurity in the country.
National Assembly angry by worsening insecurity
The Senate’s position formed part of the resolutions reached following a motion on ‘rising number of casualties among the Nigerian Army and other security agencies’ by Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno).
The resolution asking the service chiefs to resign was moved by Senator Francis Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun) and seconded by Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers).
Fadahunsi said that the present crop of service chiefs should step aside for the new ideas to come in so as not jeopardise the security system.
The motion was approved after a voice vote.
The service chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai.
The Senate also urged the federal government to urgently intensify the provision of modern security equipment to enhance the operational capability of the armed forces.
In his lead debate, Senator Ndume expressed worry over the rising killings of security agents and the voluntary retirement of army officers from service.
No fewer than 356 soldiers have reportedly tendered their letters of resignation from the Nigerian Army because of “loss of interest” among other reasons.
It was learnt that General Buratai had already approved the voluntary discharge of all the 380 soldiers who are to proceed on terminal leave on December 20, and to finally disengage on January 3, 2021, in accordance with Nigerian Army Administrative Policy and Procedure 27 Paragraphs 3 and 4.
Besides, Ndume told his colleagues yesterday at the Senate that dozens of soldiers were killed in Borno and Katsina States in the last few days, saying that if the trend continued, it would have serious implications on the fight against insurgency and banditry.
Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau), said the reports of repeated loss of life of soldiers and the unprecedented resignation of many others showed the level of disaffection among the officers.
Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi), said the armed forces were under a lot of pressure.
“This pressure is reflected in the amount and number of soldiers we are losing due to ambush by terrorists and bandits. This particular issue needs to be tackled. It means our security forces will have to reorganise their deployment, they have to employ new tactics in this fight,” he said.
Accordingly, the Senate asked its joint committees on Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Defence and Interior to investigate alleged desertion by soldiers at the war front. In his closing remarks, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said although the armed forces were trying their best to secure the country, the effort was not enough.
Lawan said, “The spirit of this motion is that our armed forces are trying very hard just like the president said. The good is still not enough but we need to continue to encourage them.
“We need to continue to provide for them. They lay their lives on behalf of all of us and of course, it is very sad that some of them are deserting, are alleged to have deserted the war front. We need to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Daily Trust recalled that the call by the Senate for the service chiefs to leave came five months after the House of Representatives had asked President Buhari to sack them.
The House in the resolution in February said the service chiefs have not been able to address the security challenges plaguing the country since 2015 when they were appointed by the President.
A report released by NigeriaMourns described the month of June as the deadliest in 2020 following the reported killing of 731 innocent citizens in violent attacks compared to 356 killed in the previous month particularly in northern Nigeria.
Fresh attacks claim 14 in Kaduna, 16 abducted in Niger
Before the Senate renewed call for new decisions to confront myriad of security challenges in the country, 11 people were killed in an attack in Gora Gan village of Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Monday night.
The attack was launched less than 24 hours after an earlier one that claimed the lives of 17 people in Kukum Daji of Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The Chairman of Zangon Kataf LGA, Dr Elias Manza, said fifteen other people were injured and taken to hospital for medical attention. Dr Manza said three houses, a car and seven motorcycles were burnt, while one church was also touched.
In what appeared as a reprisal, three persons were yesterday killed in Fari, a Fulani settlement in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
It was gathered that the settlement was attacked by some aggrieved youths following Monday’s killing of their relations at Gora. One of the persons killed was a seven year-old, Mujahid Musa who was reportedly beheaded by the attackers.
According to a source, two other persons killed include Abashe Mohammed (30) and Sanusi Ayuba (10).
Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter, Alhaji Haruna Usman Tugga appealed to the Fulani of the area to be calm and report all that happened to the security agency.
Elsewhere in Niger, 16 people were reportedly kidnapped from Magani and Tungan-Bako communities of Rafi Local Government Area.
The incident, according to findings took place at about 11 am on Monday. Those kidnapped included two housewives and their little children and the driver of a member of the state House of Assembly.
When contacted, the Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Inga confirmed the story but did not give details.
Efforts to get the Police Public Relations Officer of Niger State Police Command, ASP Wasiu Abiodun were not successful.
Service chiefs should leave on moral ground
A recently retired brigadier- general who pleaded not to be named, said Buhari should show the service chiefs the way out in order to salvage the armed forces.
According to him, “they have overstayed and ran out of useful ideas, they should leave on moral grounds even if the president did not ask them to go.
“They have stagnated and blocked the progress of their junior ones. Let me say that many junior officers are very angry with the continued stay of the service chiefs. They have all failed woefully in the premise of efficiency. They have run out of ideas,” he said.
A retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ambrose Aisabor, said that President Buhari should sack the service chiefs, saying they have run out of ideas.
“I don’t know who is advising the president. They are not doing him anything good by telling him to leave the service chiefs. They have no fresh ideas again. The President should inject new blood into the system. Is it not ridiculous that the junior officers are retiring and the service chiefs who are overdue for retirement are still there?
“I don’t expect this kind of thing from President Buhari who is a retired general in the Nigerian Army and former Head of State. There is a total security failure in the country and the service chiefs have nothing else to offer.”
He also noted that there was a complete lack of synergy among the security agencies, saying, “What we have is petty jealousy, envy and supremacy battle.”
Buhari should listen to people’s representatives- Prof Zango
Speaking with Daily Trust on the call to rejig Nigeria’s security architecture, the Director, Centre for Democratic Research & Training (Mambaya House) of the Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Ismaila Zango said he was of the opinion that once the term of an appointment expired, the appointee should go.
“This is why the army as an organisation has its own procedure and I think we should abide by the procedure, which means that if you have an officer whose time of retirement has come, that officer should actually go. That will provide for mobility even among other ranks,” he said.
Keeping the service chiefs, according to him could be interpreted as saying they were indispensable “and that should not be the case because there are people that could actually perform much better than those there at the moment. The president should look into this and do the needful,” he said.
On his part, a former Vice President of the Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA), Prof. Kamilu Sani Fagge, said “the president should listen to the people’s representatives. If there is a vote of no confidence on a person, the president ought to succumb to that and responding to the demands from experts and national assembly will show that the president is democratic.
“The fact that these people have been in the position for quite a while and the problem has been lingering is another reason for the president to be best advised to change them so that he can inject new blood into the system for the issue of security to be handled better,” he said.
Dr. Saidu Ahmad Dukawa, a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Administration, BUK, said since the tenures of the service chiefs have expired, what the president needed to do at this time was to pass a “thank you note” to them.
“It is not like sacking as some people used to call it, but thanking them for the contributions they have put in and then bringing in new heads”, he said.
An Associate Professor at the University of Calabar, Bassey Bassey, said, “They have lost grip of the security architecture of the country, which reason Boko Haram, Banditry, cultism, Kidnapping have overwhelmed the nation. We need new hands, please,” he said.
Justice Osai Ahiakwo said the continued stay of service chiefs was an embarrassment to the nation.
‘Only Buhari can take decision’
In a statement responding to the call by the Senate, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the appointment and sacking of service chiefs remained the prerogative of President Buhari.
Adesina said, “The Senate Tuesday adopted a resolution calling on the service chiefs to resign or be sacked due to the multi-pronged security challenges in the country.
“The Presidency notes the resolution, and reiterates that appointment or sack of service chiefs is a presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times,” he said.
Attempts by Daily Trust to contact the Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu to respond on the call by the Senate for the resignation of service chiefs was unsuccessful.
His mobile number was unreachable and a text message sent to him was not replied last night.
The service chiefs had through their spokespersons in the past said only the president could decide their fate.