Abuja — Nigerian Army, yesterday, retired 51 senior officers, with their retirement letters stipulating that they proceed on terminal leave with effect from December 31, 2012.
Vanguard gathered that many of the officers protested to the Presidency and National Assembly over the retirement, claiming it did not follow the terms and conditions of service of the Armed Forces.
A breakdown of the retired officers shows that 12 Major-Generals, 24 Brigadier-Generals and 15 Colonels were served letters.
Among those retired is the former UN Force Commander in South Sudan, Major-General Moses Obi; Commander Infantry Centre Corps, Jaji, Major-General M. D. Isah, who also doubled as Cantonment Commander of Jaji Cantonment that was recently breached by suicide bombers.
However, Army Spokesman, newly-promoted Major-General Mobolaji Koleoso, said the retirement of General Isa had nothing to do with the Jaji bomb blast as he was already due to go.
He said the board of inquiry report on the Jaji incident was being studied and that Nigerians will be informed of the outcome at the appropriate time.
Reacting to the anonymous text message making rounds in the public domain alleging forceful retirements of some officers, Koleoso, Director of Army Public Relations, noted that it was not common for the Army to respond to such insinuations, but noted it was necessary to exercise the right of response in this case to put the facts before the public.
We followed rules, regulations-- Army
According to him, the administration of the Nigerian Army, NA, as in any organisation, is governed by rules and regulations.
He said the 51 officers retired had been notified earlier in the year of their retirement, adding that most of them had voluntarily written regarding same.
Subsequently, the Army Council approved their retirement from service having attained the mandatory age ceiling for each rank.
He said retirement from any noble profession, especially the Army, was considered a noble exit, which every officer hoped and prayed for.
"To turn around to give such a milestone exercise a negative flavour is, to say the least, mischievous," he said.
Among those who put in paper for voluntary retirement is Major-General Olayinka Akinyemi, Chief of Policy and Plans, Army Headquarters. He added that the present leadership will continue to uphold its core values.
He said in line with the Chief of Army Staff, COAS's vision of transforming the NA into a force better able to meet contemporary challenges and President Jonathan's transformation agenda, the NA will continue to abide by extant rules and regulations.
Koleoso said: "The NA uses this medium to advise anybody aggrieved over the decisions of the Army Council to take advantage of the relevant provisions in the Harmonised Terms and Condition of Services Officers, 2012 (Revised) to appeal to the C-in-C through the Chief of Defence Staff and stop banking on ethnic and religious sentiments to pursue personal ambitions.
"Also, Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt.-Gen. O. Ihejirika, is a united, cohesive and focused institution and will remain steadfast in the discharge of its national responsibilities, especially in its present fight against terrorism."
On terrorist attacks
Speaking on terrorist attacks, the Army Spokesman said terrorists wanted to create problems by attacking churches and killing Christians, adding that if Christians had not held back, it would have ignited a religious war, which no country ever survived.
He said there had been cordon and search operations everywhere in the north and the south.
According to him, it is why Nigerians have had a peaceful Christmas and will equally have a peaceful New Year.
General Koleoso added that though the cordon and search and roadblocks were not intended to harass or intimidate civilians, the measure put in place had recorded a lot of successes.
He urged Nigerians to be patient as the measures might cause some delays, but that it was for the safety of all.