By EseAwhotu with agency report
The Nigerian Army has said it will set up a “Special Standing Court Martial’’ to try partisan officers and men , as the 2019 general elections approach.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen.Tukur Buratai, who disclosed this yesterday when he declared open the 2018 Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference in Abuja, warned army personnel against partisanship. He asked them to remain apolitical but professionally responsive in the discharge of their constitutional duties.
His words: “I have directed for a special Standing Court Martial to be set up in preparation for the coming 2019 elections. I must warn that any Nigerian Army personnel found hobnobbing with politicians or being partisan will be investigated and sent to the Special Standing Court Martial.
“I must state clearly that any officer or soldier who wishes to be sympathetic to political, religious or ethnic cause should voluntarily retire from the Nigerian Army,’’ Buratai said.
The army chief also restated the ban on any form of worship outside the barracks except those permitted for wedding and other social functions.
“Therefore, officers and soldiers must restrain themselves from any act of political, religious or ethnic patronage as these would attract severe consequences,’’ he said.
He noted that the unity and integrity of the nation lies’ on the military, particularly the army, adding that any act by personnel that was inimical to the country’s unity would be decisively dealt with.
Buratai charged commanders at all levels to remind their officers and soldiers to remain non-partisan and be guided by Code of Conduct and rules of engagement, while discharging their roles.
On the ongoing operations, the army chief said that they were being reviewed due to lapses observed among commanders.
According to him, some of the lapses observed are partly attributed to indecisiveness when faced with obvious challenges.
“The attitude of commanders in the field must change, especially toward decision making and taking appropriate action, in line with the rules of engagement.
“In this regard, issues of murder, arson and other serious crimes perpetrated by ethnic and local militias, criminals and miscreants must be dealt with decisively.’’
He warned that commanders would be held responsible for any lapses arising from their actions or inactions.
Buratai, therefore, directed the Chief of Training and Operations to set up a high-powered team to review all operations, especially where lapses had been observed.
He said that this was necessary to punish all those found to have been involved in lapses.
Buratai recalled concerns raised by individuals and groups about some of the actions by troops on operations which had led to criticism against the army.
He, however, said that he had set up a panel to probe those concerns to determine their veracity or otherwise and assured that steps would be taken to improve relations with the civil populace.
“We must ensure that we conduct ourselves professionally and respond adequately to threats against our nation, in accordance with our constitutional roles.’’
The army chief also yesterday announced that the Nigerian Army was set to form a women-only corp to develop professionally responsive female officers and soldiers, who can be deployed to provide support in all its operational engagements within and outside the country.
Buratai said that the move was in recognition of the competence and capacity of female soldiers and also in line with global best practices.