Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Thursday allayed concerns about possible mass retirement of top military officers superior to the Chief of Army, Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya.
It said contrary to reports of an impending exodus of about 30 Generals in the military following the appointment of Yahaya, a member of the 37 Regular Course of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), other major generals and equivalent ranks in the military senior to him would be redeployed to the Defence Headquarters.
In line with military tradition that forbids seniors saluting juniors, members of Course 35, 36 and 37 were expected to leave the service following Yahaya’s appointment.
THISDAY gathered that members of Course 35, notably the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP), Maj. Gen. Benjamin Ahanotu, and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Maj. Gen. Abubakar Maikobi, have not been seen at official functions since Yahaya assumed duties.
Ahanotu’s deputy has been standing in for him at official functions.
THISDAY gathered that most Course 36 officers were redeployed to Defence Headquarters and tri-service institutions, notably Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Command and Staff College, Jaji and TRADOC and have since assumed duties.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, is of Course 34, whom by his seniority could accommodate officers of Courses 35 and 36 cadres in tri-service institutions under the DHQ.
The new army chief is believed to have accepted to work with his coursemates (Course 37).
Briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, Acting Director of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Bri. Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, said the military was not contemplating any retirement and had, in fact, not retired any general.
“I wish to use this medium to dispel such unfounded rumours. Retirement is only voluntarily for senior officers who desire to do so,” he said, adding: “At this point, no retirement has been authorised by the military high command.”
He said the military high command would not be weary of appreciating the general public for their support and continue to encourage them to provide credible and timely information that will facilitate their proactive engagements in the theatres of operations.
“The military high command also lauds all efforts of the gallant troops of the armed forces and personnel of other security agencies involved in various operations across the country for their resilience and indefatigable commitment,” he said.
Onyeuko also reviewed DDMO’s operational activities nationwide between May 20 and June 2.
He said the operations were the combined efforts of the military and other security agencies involving land, maritime and air operations.
He said: “It is worthy of note that these operations are conducted simultaneously in the various theatres of operation on daily basis across the country. The unrelenting and committed efforts of the gallant troops as well as the cumulative results of our operational activities in the various operations and specific events will be highlighted under the different operations.
“Within the period in focus, troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria intensified their operational efforts in the fight against terrorism, banditry, hoodlums and militancy as well as other criminalities across all the geo-political zones of the country.” According to him, the troops conducted series of clearance patrols, ambush, raid, picketing, cordon and search operations as well as artillery bombardments.
Others are anti-piracy, anti-illegal oil bunkering, anti-crude oil theft, anti-pipeline vandalism and anti-smuggling operations. He said there were also extensive air operations, which included air patrols, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions, offensive air strikes, air interdictions, search and rescue operations, and close air support for ground troops.
He said troops of Operation Hadin Kai carried out series of operational activities.
He added: “They rescued kidnapped victims, neutralised scores of terrorists, destroyed terrorists’ enclaves, arrested terrorists and intercepted terrorists’ logistics items, including vehicles.
“On 20 May 2021, troops had contact and engaged BHT criminal elements in Gwoza LGA of Borno State. This occurred as troops swiftly responded to a distress call by farmers on an attack on their location. Troops gallantly rescued the farmers. During the encounter, several terrorists were neutralised, while some others escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds.”
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja