Recruitment, promotion irregularities rock Army
The Nigerian Army (NA) may have abandoned its cherished application of professional ethics in the conduct of its affairs as investigations reveal high level ethnic bias, favouritism and corrupt tendencies in promotion of officers and admission into the various Army training schools across the country.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, who was appointed into that coveted seat in 2010, does not seem to help matters following his alleged repeated flouting of certain decisions of the NA Council.
The council recently approved the retirement of 11 major-generals but the COAS retired 12, along with 26 brigadier generals instead of the approved 25 and 13 colonels instead of 12.
Also in 2010, reports show that the Ordinance Corps presented four brigadiers for consideration for promotion to the rank of major general and Army Headquarters, contrary to the defined rules, picked the most junior, Brigadier Ugwu of NDA Course 25, ahead of Brigadier Kachallah of NDA Course 22, Brigadier Oginni of NDA Course 23 and Brigadier Martins of NDA Course 24.
The situation was not different in the Armoured Corps where in the appointment of a Corps Commander, ethnic considerations might have played a dominant role with the appointment of Brigadier Nwogbo (NDA Course 25) as Corps Commander, against Brigadier Oshinowo (NDA Course 24).
“Ihejirika is prosecuting an unwholesome programme designed to put officers from his ethnic zone in the Army ahead of the other areas,” a source within the NA council alleged, a seemingly logical insinuation, considering similar developments there.
According to the source, “it appears that the Chief of Army Staff is on a specific mission, most probably, sponsored by some sinister dark forces bent on destroying the Army and setting the country on the path of serious conflagration.
“From all indications, Gen. Ihejirika is deliberately and recklessly pursuing a plan to destroy the career of senior non-Igbo officers while at the same time embarking on a massive recruitment of soldiers of Igbo stock in order to eclipse all other ethnic groups in the Nigerian Army”.
As if to justify the allegation, the Supply and Transport Corps in 2011 recommended four brigadiers for promotion out of which Brigadier Agha Okoro (NDA Course 28) was selected, ahead of his senior colleagues, Brigadier Baidon (NDA Course 25), Brigadier Magaji (NDA Course 26) and Brigadier Nienger (NDA Course 26).
Some of the alleged lopsided positions approved by the COAS also include those of Brigadier Okoro as Sector Commander at UNAMSIL ( Liberia), Brigadier Duru, Director of Logistics at the Nigerian Defence College (NDC), Brigadier Chioba, defacto officer in charge at the Army Headquarters (AHQ) Policy and Plans, Brigadier Egwuagwu, Director at AHQ in charge of recruitment, positioning and promotion of all soldiers, Brigadier Ebenebe, Director of Operations at AHQ, Brigadier Okoh, Acting Chief of Logistics at AHQ, among others.
The source explained further that, “in course 30 of the NDA, four officers were presented but none was promoted and Gen. Ihejirika preferred a junior officer from course 26, the idea again being that for every promotion he must insert an Igbo”.
The alleged “Igbonization” programme, from investigations, also indicates that recruitment into the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, has tended to follow a certain trend under Ihejirika, from Abia state.
Abia with a population of only 2.8 million has so far had the largest share of recruits, 450, far above Kano with a population of 9.3 million and Lagos with a population of just over nine million and Kaduna with a population of about seven million. These states have 259, 255 and 382 recruits respectively.
Although 377 persons were recruited from Ebonyi with a population of 2.2 million, Oyo state with a population of 5.6 million had only 282; Katsina with a population of 5.8 million had only 248; and 271 recruits from Plateau state which has a population of 3.2 million.
And on a zonal basis, the South-east, with estimated population of 16.3 million, has the largest number of 1925 recruits, the north-west with a population of 35.8 million has 1949 recruits; the South-west with a population of 27.6 million, has only 1561 recruits.
The source warned that, “a disgruntled officer corps is a recipe for disaster because the Army will lack unity, cohesion and purpose. It will be pre-occupied with fighting itself, as the terrible experiences of 1966 -67”.
When contacted, immediate past Director of Army Public Relations, Major Gen. Mobolaji Koleoso, said “no comments from me please. I have not heard about such allegations in the Nigerian Armed Forces of which the NA is an integral part.
“I am not covering anything up, mind you, but I believe the Nigerian Army under the current leadership is beyond such allegations”.