By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-The compulsory retirement of 38 Senior Army Officers on June 9, 2016 has been described as an unjust and unfair treatment by Nigeria and the leadership of the Nigerian Military to her men and women in uniform.
This was the crux of the Special Human Rights Media hot seat hosted by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), where it was noted that of the 38 Senior officers, 24 are from the South East and South South zones, amounting to a whooping 63 per cent.
Speaking passionately on the issue on Monday in Abuja, the Guest of Honour, Barrister Abdul Muhammed appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to authorize the immediate reinstatement of the 38 retired Senior Army Officers into the Nigerian Army pending an urgent and impartial investigation into all allegations in the petition.
According to him; “I have the duty to point out that in the case of the 38 Senior Army Officers, the present Army leadership acted maliciously and by surreptitiously substituting the names of culpable officers with innocent ones in a gross act of corruption and went ahead to deliberately mislead the President and Commander in Chief as well as the entire nation on the matter.
“I must point out that Army record shows that in the respective case of all the officers, there was either no factual basis for the punishment and/or there was complete lack of established process leading to their dismissals, President Buhari must act now to check the injustice” he added.
While noting that in the list of 38 Senior Army Officers are Nine (09) Major Generals, ten (10) Brigadier Generals, seven (07) Colonels, eleven (11) Lieutenant Colonels and one (01) Major, he added that none of the senior officers that were compulsorily retired was ever charged,tried by a court martial or found guilty of any offence in line with Armed Forces extant rules and regulations, before they all heard of their retirement in the media
Barr.Muhammed who emphasized the huge disparity in the number of officers dismissed from particular zones said that; “Seven of the Senior Army Officers are from Rivers State; two (02) each are from Delta and Akwa Ibom States; three (03) are from Edo State and ten (10) others are from the South Eastern states (and of Igbo descent). In order words, twenty-four (24) of the 38 Senior Army Officers in the list are from the South South and South East zones (63%)”.
He stressed that the removal of Rivers State Officers from the Nigerian Army on arbitrary grounds constitutes a dangerous depletion of the population of the state’s indigenes in officer corps of the Nigerian Army ever recorded in the country.
In his remarks, the Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko urged the President to investigate the allegations and provide redress as quickly as possible, adding that a grace period will be given to him to address the matter or it will be taken further to the international community.
He said; “We thank God that we live in the 21st century where if you cannot ventilate your opinion or positions locally, you can go internationally. We believe that the President will address this matter because he is a product of the military institution.
“We don’t expect that it will be under his government that the military institution will be compromised or destroyed so he should investigate all these allegations. The reason why he has to do that is that already Mr. President has one kind of public image in a section of the country where it is believed that he does not like the South East, I don’t know about the south South”.
He however questioned the prolonged silence from the Rivers state government which he said had seven of their sons wiped out of the Nigerian Army.
The group further called for justice for the family of one of the Retired Senior Officer who is presently late.