17 May 2017

Nigeria: "Stay Off Politics," Army Chief Buratai Warns Soldiers as Coup Rumours Spread

Photo: The Guardian Nigeria
(file photo).

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has given a stern warning to army officials to stay off politics and politically related activities.

Mr. Buratai gave the order on Tuesday via a statement issued by the Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general.

“This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts”.

Although Mr. Usman did not disclose the “political reasons”, military sources had told PREMIUM TIMES that the Army hierarchy was disturbed by rumours of a coup being planned by junior officers.

A top military official told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, had even raised the issue with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and promised to nip it in the bud.

The concern may have informed Mr. Buratai’s decision to reshuffle the postings of top military generals last week.

The rumours worsened following President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent sickness that saw him travelling to London for further treatment, weeks after he spent over 50 days in London for medical reasons. Like in his previous trip, the president wrote the National Assembly transferring powers to his deputy, Mr. Osinbajo.

On Tuesday, the army chief warned all officers and soldiers interested in politics to resign their commission or apply for voluntary discharge forthwith.

“Any officer or soldier of Nigerian Army found to be hobnobbing with such elements or engaged in unprofessional conducts such as politicking would have himself or herself to blame,” the army spokesperson said.

Nigeria has witnessed 18 years of interrupted democracy after the last military government relinquished power in 1999. The country in 2015 also witnessed its first ever opposition victory which saw the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party losing presidential and parliamentary elections to the incumbent All Progressives Congress.
Mr. Usman on Tuesday reiterated that the Nigerian Army will remain apolitical and respect the Nigerian constitution at all times.

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