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Retired generals warn military to stay out of politics

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Dayo Oketola, Success Nwogu, Gbenro Adeoye and Jesusegun Alagbe

Some retired generals in the military have backed the current democratic dispensation and warned military elements not to engage in any move that could destabilise the country’s democracy.

The retired generals warned the military to steer clear of politics, saying such a move could lead to a face-off between the military and the citizens.

READ: People approaching soldiers for political reasons – Buratai

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. –Gen. Tukur Buratai, had recently warned military men against being used by politicians to truncate the country’s democracy, saying he had received information that some individuals had been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons.

But the retired generals declared their support for the government of the President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, who is now Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Supporting Buratai’s call, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.), described politicking as a “misadventure” that almost destroyed the military and left the country crawling towards development.

The retired general also warned the military against doing anything that could destabilise the democracy under which the country is now operating, saying such a move could lead to a face-off between the military and the citizens.

He said, “It [politicking] is a misadventure that virtually destroyed the military as an institution and left our country crawling in the race to modernity. I suspect the general [Buratai] will feed his information to the intelligence community for evaluation.

“The military knows that even the populace will confront them and I’m not discounting the likelihood that the military itself has diverse reasons to oppose any move to truncate our rickety democracy.”

Maj. –Gen. David Jemibewon (retd.), who also declared his support for democracy, warned the military to completely stay out of politics.

READ ALSO – Buratai’s alert: UK, Ohanaeze, ACF, PDP warn soldiers against coup

The former Military Governor of the Old Oyo State praised Buratai for saying what he described as “good”, adding that “it is a good one from him because we are now under democratic dispensation and the military should not be seen as interfering in politics. Politicking is not their job. I am in total support of what Buratai said.”

According to Brig. –Gen. Ajibola Togun (retd.), the military was not built for the purpose of politicking. He, therefore, warned the military not to do anything that would destabilise democracy.

He, however, accused politicians of being the ones who had contaminated the military as an institution in the past, through bribery and corruption.

“The military is not for politicking at all. It wasn’t the purpose for which we have it. The military has no business in politics at all.

“However, it is the politicians who messed up the military when they started throwing money at soldiers. The politicians corrupted our military establishment.

“Be that as it may, the military should completely stay out of politics. We have democracy now and no soldier should be seen as destabilising it,” he said.

Also a retired Brigadier General, Kayode Ojo, noted that though Nigeria’s democracy was still young and imperfect, it would get better with time.

Ojo, who described democracy as the best system of government, therefore, said nothing must be allowed to jeopardise a political system that “allows the choosing and replacing of governments through free and fair elections.”

He said, “I must commend the Chief of Army Staff for coming out to warn those who have been approaching some military personnel for undisclosed political reasons to desist from doing so.

“This is a proactive step meant to nip in the bud any unpleasant event. It is also meant to remind the military personnel that they should be apolitical, non- partisan and be subservient to their political leaders. They should rather concentrate on their constitutional role.

“Buhari/Osinbajo joint ticket was massively voted for by Nigerians on the All Progressives Congress’ platform to govern Nigeria till 2019. It behoves every Nigerian to ensure that nothing untoward happens to that ticket till the end of their term in 2019 when they could be voted for a second term or voted out.

“And if the hobnobbing by military personnel with politicians constitutes a threat to the security of this country or to our democracy, the military hierarchy knows what to do,” Ojo said.

Ojo’s submission was similar to a call made by Maj. –Gen. Chris Olukolade (retd.), who also expressed support for Buratai’s warning, while adding that the “military has no business with politics.”

In February 2015, two months before the 2015 elections, Olukolade had said the military would never get involved in politics after concerns grew about its role in pushing for the country’s presidential election to be delayed by six weeks.

Then, the military had faced accusations of interference in politics when the then-Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, revealed that the office of the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), had written to him saying that unless he [Jega] delayed the February 14, 2015 election, it [the military] could not guarantee security.

The NSA had urged a six-week delay to enable the military to contain the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

But the then-Defence spokesperson, Maj. –Gen. Olukolade, had warned the military to remain conscious of its service oath and solemn commitment to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even while remaining loyal to constituted authorities in the country.

A former Military Administrator of Bauchi and Osun states, Col. Theophilus Bamigboye (retd.), said it would be sad if the rumour that some people were planning to topple the government of President Buhari turned out to be true.

He declared his commitment and support for the government of Buhari and Osinbajo, noting that it was wrong for soldiers to be involved in politics while still serving the nation.

He called on any military officer interested in politics to resign before doing so, warning that one cannot be a military man and be partisan.

“We have been in full democracy for some years and people should not truncate it at this time. So, it will be very unfortunate if the rumour is found to be true.

“It will be too bad for us, too bad for this nation and too bad for our growth.

“There should not be any nonsense talk about coup; we should all work hard and make democracy to thrive.

“So I absolutely agree with the Chief of Army Staff that soldiers should stay out of politics. Anybody in uniform that is interested in politics should just resign and join politics. But you cannot be in the military and at the same time, be partisan or dabble into politics,” he said.

Also, leader of a group of ex-service men, Military Professional Liaison, Yinusa Ogoni, has assured that none of the members of the organisation could be recruited for any job meant to truncate the country’s democracy.

He said, “No retired military man that was discharged honorably will be part of anything criminal except the person is a deserter. They won’t be part of such irrespective of their situation or suffering because they swore an oath to serve the nation and they are resilient.

“Also, the clear handwriting on the wall is that this government is serious about ridding Nigeria of corruption, insurgency and insecurity. So the entire nation is in support of democracy. As far as retired soldiers and officers are concerned, they are not disposed to supporting anything that will destabilise our democracy now.

“And there is no way our men will support that and the military system has the capacity to deal with any officer mixing with politicians. The military system can fish out such people and it has an internal way of dealing with erring soldiers. There are many sanctions in the code of conduct for military men that commit such crimes. If you try to topple a government, the crime is clear and the military knows what to do about it.”

Meanwhile, General Officer Commanding 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. –Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, has warned soldiers to desist from illegal duties that would tarnish the image of the army.

Oyebade gave the warning while inaugurating Gunners Memorial Garden built by the Commander 31 Artillery Brigade, Brig. –Gen. Moshood Jimoh, in honour of the fallen soldiers of the brigade in Minna, Niger State Capital.

Oyebade said that on no account should any soldier involve themselves in illegal duties that would jeopardse the work of the army, adding that any person caught would be dealt with.

He said, “Army will not tolerate illegal duties from any soldier. Try as much as you can to exhibit army professionalism while discharging your duties.”

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