The Presidency on Tuesday swiftly replied the Senate on its resolution calling on the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs “to resign or be sacked due to the multi-pronged security challenges in the country.”
A two-paragraph statement by Presidential Spokesperson, Femi Adesina stated: The Presidency notes the resolution, and reiterates that appointment or sack of Service Chiefs is a Presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times.”
The Senate had in an unprecedented move in the history of Nigeria since independence on October 1, 1960, passed the resolution asking the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Service Chiefs to resign from office.
The Senate hinged their decision on the deplorable state of insecurity and violence by Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Northeast and the banditry in the Northwest and North Central regions of the country.
Last Saturday, bandits killed three officers and 15 soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces in Katsina, the home State of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Interestingly, the CDS and Service Chiefs hold their commands at the mercy and discretion of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is President Buhari.
But the both Chambers of the National Assembly had earlier called on President Buhari to sack them as the security of the nation has continued to deteriorate by the day. But the President has kept them in office.
But the Senate, in a motion sponsored by Ali Ndume, the Senator representing Borno South who is also chairman of the upper legislative Committee on Army, now sought for the conscience and honour of the nation’s top military commanders, asking them to go on their own since the President has refused to sack them.
Senator Francis Fadahunsi, representing Osun East Senatorial District, in an amended resolution in a motion earlier moved by Senator Ali Ndume, said: “Mr President, distinguished colleagues, I hereby moved an amendment to the resolution that all the Service Chiefs should step down.”
Senator Betty Apiafi seconded the motion and it was upheld by the Senate.
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan expressed concern at the large number of military officers who are leaving the war front.
He said there was the need for government to look into what is happening wrongly in the military.
The nation’s top military commanders include the CDS, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Service Chiefs – Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (Army), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Navy) and Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Air Force). President Buhari appointed them to their positions in July 2015.
And despite the widespread insecurity across the nation and deepening loss of confidence on them, they have been in office.
According to the Armed Forces Terms and Conditions of Service, all four were due for replacement in July 2017, having met the threshold for retirement.
General Olonisakin has spent 38 years in service; Buratai, 36 years; Ekwe Ibas, 36 years and Abubakar, 40 years.
Section 8 of the Public Service rules stipulates that the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever comes earlier.
“No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier,” according to the public service manual.