Saturday, 20 May 2017

Buratai’s warning: Army formations placed on red alert

Buratai’s warning: Army formations placed on red alert

Buratai

FOLLOWING reports of threats to democracy posed by clandestine meetings between some army officers and politicians, the army authorities have placed all formations on alert, just as they have stopped all officers and men from proceeding on annual leave.

General Officers Commanding (GOCs) have also been directed to engage their officers and men in talks and briefings on the situation of things in the military, particularly their statutory duties in a democracy.

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The authorities are said to also be taking extra measures to prevent external infiltration into the army.

The new burst of activities in the army is coming on the heels of a warning, on Tuesday, from the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, to the officers and men to stop hobnobbing with politicians.

General Buratai’s warning, which was conveyed through a statement by the army spokesman, Brigadier-General S. K. Usman, had been fired from Rwanda where the army chief was attending a conference of Africa’s army chiefs. Buratai returned to Nigeria a day after issuing the warning.

A competent source told Saturday Tribune that “as part of measures to block avenues for possible secret plots, the army authorities have put on hold every pass and annual leave except for personnel affected by the recent postings, who are reporting to their new stations.

“The army chief explained to the GOCs the need to be vigilant in their various divisions and monitor every movement in the barracks, just as he directed them to hold regular briefings with their officers and durbar with the troops,” the source said.

“Durbar” is a parade where soldiers receive updates from their commanders on happenings in the army. It is also a forum for the troops to ask their commanders questions on issues bothering them.

The new directive regarding increased interaction between the officers and men is said to have also been sequel to complaints by the troops in the various commands of lack of adequate briefings on the developments in the army and on the war against insurgency in the country.

The army authorities’ directive to commanders to warn their troops of the implication of leaving the barracks to interact with politicians has given rise to uneasy calm in the army circle as interactions among even officers are now said to be based on mutual suspicion, just as the officers have reportedly cut down on casual meetings and visits to one another.

The public statement issued by General Usman had indicated that the army chief, General Buratai, received information that some individuals [civilians] had been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. And on the basis of that, he warned the concerned persons to desist from the act.

Buratai emphasised that Nigerian Army was a professional, disciplined, loyal and apolitical institution that had clear constitutional roles and responsibilities.

He advised officers and soldiers interested in politics to resign their commission or apply for voluntary discharge forthwith.

“Any officer or soldier of the Nigerian Army found to be hobnobbing with such elements or engaged in unprofessional conducts such as politicking would have himself or herself to blame,” the statement said.

The COAS said the army would remain apolitical and continue to respect the constitution.

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Buratai in Buhari’s home town, Daura, sets up army base

Meanwhile, General Buratai was in President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown, Daura, on Friday where he inaugurated an operational base for the army.

A statement signed by the army spokesman, Usman, said the base was inaugurated to improve security in the area.

“In order to further enhance security in parts of 1 Division Nigerian Army’s area of responsibility, today Friday, 19th May, 2017, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, commissioned Fort Muhammadu Buhari forward Operation Base, Daura, Katsina State, which was named after President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The establishment of the new unit was part of the implementation of the Nigerian Army approved Order of Battle 2016 (ORBAT 2016) by the Army Council. Prior to that, he was at the palace of His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr) Umar Faruk Umar, the Emir of Daura, for a courtesy call,” the statement read.

The army authorities also announced that “the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Nigerian Army, Major General Adamu Abubakar was on Thursday 18 May 2017 on operational visit to 93 Battalion Takum,” in Taraba State.

The GOC’s team, according to the statement, was “composed of the Commander 13 Brigade, Brigadier General Bulama Biu, the Commander 82 Division Provost Group Colonel Ahmadu Abubakar, the Commanding Officer 93 Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Gambari, the Commanding Officer 20 Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Awwal Abdullahi and the representative of the Commander Military Intelligence Brigade, Ige Titus.”

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