Rights Group Flays Army’s New Postings – Accuses Nigerian Army of Sliding into Ethno-Religious Army

•Demands Indigenisation of Postings

Alphonsus Nweze

A human right and pro-democracy group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has flayed the recent postings by Nigerian Army as being lopsided and ethno- religious.

In a statement released to the media, the rights group said the postings encourages the prevailing insecurity in the country and posed a threat to the credibility of the 2023 polls.

Intersociety accused the authorities of the Nigerian Army and the Presidency of working hard to collapse the High Command cadre of the Army into Northern Army dominated by members of the Northern Muslim population.

“Intersociety is shocked at the Army’s latest lopsided postings involving Principal Staff Officers of the Army Headquarters, Corps Commanders, Commandants of Army Training Institutions, Brigade Commanders, Commanding Officers and so on; whereby out of 19 top officers and their postings mentioned, only three are Southern Christians, while most of the remaining 16 are Northern Muslims,” said the group in the statement signed by its chairman, Nze Emeka Umeagbalasi.

Continuing: “It particularly saddens our heart that despite widespread public outcries in the East (South-East and South-South) against the flooding of the region with senior Muslim officers and the high vulnerability of their crude soldiering in the region to members of the defenseless civilian population and their properties, the authorities of the Nigerian Army have stopped at nothing by continuing to flood the region with senior Northern Muslim officers.”

They lamented that it is not only that no South-East officer from the rank of major general was among those in the new postings as a GOC, but another Northern Muslim, Major General Aminu S Chinade, has been posted to 82 Division, Enugu as GOC.

The group said it has recently investigated and found out that not less than eight former GOCs of the 82 Division, Enugu between July 2015 and January 2023 are Muslims including seven Northern Muslims posted to the Division as GOCs in quick succession.

Intersociety also said they found out that more Northern Muslim officers are among those newly posted to the East, one of them being Brig General S Aliyu who was posted from Nigerian Army’s 6 Division Headquarters in Port Harcourt to 63 Brigade, Asaba as a Commander.

Other Muslim Brigade Commanders manning six out of seven Eastern Region’s Army Brigade formations in South-East and South-South include Brig Gen Sani Suleiman, 34 Brigade Commander, Obinze, Brig Gen Adegoke Adetuyi, 14 Brigade Commander, Ohafia, Brig Gen Abubakar Wase, Brig Commander, 2 Brigade, Uyo, Brig Gen Danlami Ndahi, Brig Commander, 4 Brigade, Benin and Brig Gen Salidsu Yahaya, Brigade Commander, 16 Brigade, Yanagoa.
Intersociety said out of Nigerian Army’s seven Brigade formations in the East; five are commanded by Northern Muslim officers just as Senior Northern Muslim officers also dominate the list of Army’s Divisions’ Principal Officers, Battalion, Artillery and Regiment Commanders and Commanding Officers in the South-East and South-South.

The rights group
lamented that the lopsided postings has escalated ethno-religious insecurity in the country and would threaten the 2023 general election.

It said the lopsided postings has given one ethno-religious group an upper hand over other ethno-religious groups including unhindered access to state coercive instruments and their massive deployment against “asymmetric others which further breed grounds for violent self help and emergence of motley of armed fighting parties.”

“Such grossly lopsided postings in a country of multiethnic and religious composition or groupings will at all times breed ethnic and religious divisions, fears and suspicions and general feeling of insecurity and securitization exclusion or feeling of ‘security and safety without local contents,” said Intersociety.

Continuing the group noted, “Such postings and their lopsidedness less than 45 days to the all-important Feb. 25, 2023 Presidential Poll also constitute a major threat to the critical poll and an indication of the Nigerian Government and the Military’s bent on anointing their preferred candidate as the next president of Nigeria.”

They also said the lopsided postings is a negation of the the Nigerian Constitution and other body of laws.

Therefore the rights group said: “The latest postings by the authorities of the Nigerian Army are unconstitutional, unlawful, dictatorial, vexatious, illegitimate and undemocratic. The postings were specifically done in total disregard to Section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which states, “The composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall reflect the Federal Character (geopolitical balancing) of Nigeria.”

The postings, Intersociety said, were also done in grave violation of Section 219 of the Constitution and principles of indigenous involvement or participation by members of the country’s ethnic nationalities in the activities of the armed forces including senior and junior officers’ promotions and postings.

They said Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character (geopolitical balancing) of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies” was also observed in grave breach.

Section 10 of the Constitution, the group said which states, “The government of the federation shall not adopt any religion as state religion” and by Section 41, ‘discrimination of any form especially on the grounds of sex, ethnicity or place of birth in Nigeria and religion in conducting the affairs of the government or any of its agencies including the Nigerian Army, is totally disallowed and prohibited to discriminate any of its members.

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