Abuja — The Nigerian Army has officially confirmed the retirement of about 51 senior military officers either through voluntary or compulsory retirement, which also affected the former Commandant of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps, Jaji, Major General M.D. Isa.
Confirming this thursday, the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen Mobolaji Koleoso, at a press conference in Abuja, explained that the officers, who were relieved of their duties had either reached the mandatory year of service or the age of retirement commensurate with their ranks.
Koleoso said all the retired officers were notified of their impending retirement in writing (letter) six months ahead, according to the relevant provisions in the Harmonised Terms and Condition of Services Officers, 2012 (Revised) of which they responded back in writing to either voluntarily retire or be retired under compulsion after reaching the mandatory years of service.
He said: "In the Nigerian Army and I am sure it is the practised in other military services all over the world you will be retired after reaching the mandatory years of service, which is 35 years or have not promoted beyond the rank of Major-General by age of 56 years, Brigadier General by 54 years and Colonel by 52 years.
"The Army will normally write you a letter six months ahead to notify you that you will be retired and you can then write back for voluntary retirement thanking the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and The Army Council for the opportunity to serve. In the case you did not indicate willingness to retire compulsorily through writing, you can then proceed under compulsory retirement after you have reached the age or years of service," he said.
Among those retired include 12 Major Generals, including MaJ-Gen Obi of the African Union/United Nations Mission Commander in Sudan, who returned to the country last month, 25 Brigadier Generals and 12 Colonels.
The Army Council had last week announced the promotion of 150 senior army officers including the elevation of 22 brigadier Generals to the rank of Major Generals, which also necessitated the need for the senior army officers to proceed either on compulsory or voluntary retirements.
Fielding questions from journalists, the Army spokesman said Isa's retirement had nothing to do with the panel of inquiry that investigated the Jaji cantonment twin bombings but his age, which is 58.
Reacting to the allegation of forceful retirement that have greeted the exercise, he said: "Those circulating news of forceful retirements do not mean well for this country."
He likened the spirit behind such accusations and politicising of Military affairs through ethno-religious prism as the sentiment that propelled Boko Haram movement in the country.
"Those who are complaining and alleging about forceful retirement (based on ethno-religious sentiments) are in the league of Boko Haram. I believe that it is none of these retired officers who clearly understood the Nigerian Army rules are waging this war of calumny," he noted.
"Retirement from any noble profession, especially from the Nigerian Army was considered a noble exit, which every officer hopes and prays for. To now turn around to give such a milestone exercise a negative flavour is, to say the least, mischievous," he added.Koleoso further explained that the administration of the NA as in any organisation was governed by rules and regulations.
He stressed: "All the 51 officers retired have been notified earlier in the year of their retirement and most of them had voluntarily written regarding same. Subsequently, the Army Council approved their retirement from service having attended the mandatory age ceiling for each rank.
"We 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."