5 February 2013

Nigeria: Ihejirika to Respond to Alleged Ethnic Bias in the Army

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika, has expressed his disappointment over allegations of ethnic cleansing and victimisation leveled against him. This was just as he promised to address the issue next week.

A section of the media had raised an alarm accusing the Army Chief of giving his kinsmen juicy appointments and of violating the Army Council directives since his emergence as the COAS even Army authorities faulted the allegation and disclosed that Gen Ihejirika would address the issue soon.

The new Director, Army Public Relations Department, Brig-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, made this disclosure while taking over from Major General Bolaji Koleosho who himself later resumed work as the Chief of the Civil-Military Affairs.

Attahiru who acknowledged the media reports said "my answer for now is that the Chief of the Army Staff would address members of the press on February 11 and this issue would properly be addressed."

A top Army officer, who craved for anonymity, cautioned those sponsoring the anti-COAS reports to stop it in the interest of the Army that has made them. He reminded those he described as "disgruntled retired generals" who are behind the reports to come out from their hiding if they are sure of what they are saying.

"There are rules and regulations guiding our appointments, promotions and retirements, those disgruntled retired generals should not forget that it was the Army that made them and turning back to pull down the house on everyone for selfish reasons is not good. They should have a re-think. These people have a right to bring their grievances to the right quarters instead of heating the system, they are picking names of some officers who come from the Eastern part of the country as if they are the only ones that were posted. This is not fair. The posting was well distributed and for your information, two officers that follow the Chief in rank are from the section of the country where these same people come from".

Speaking further, the source disclosed that some of the aggrieved retired officers ought to have been retired earlier but for the intervention of the same General Ihejirika whom they are now fighting. According to him, this exposes them as ingrates to the Army Chief who prolonged their stay in the Army. The media should be patient for the Army Chief till next week when he would address this issue. Only him could speak authoritatively on this matter and lay it to rest once and for all.

At the handing over ceremony, General Koleosho acknowledged the support, understanding and camaradie that characterised the relationship between the media and the Army while his tenure lasted and urged the practitioners to extend the same gesture to his successor.

The new Army spokesman appealed to the media to cross check their facts from his office on any story that has to do with the Army before going to the press with a promise to operate an open door policy every day.

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