Uneasy calm has enveloped the Nigerian Army following recent massive shake-up.
Signs that the tension caused by the exercise, which involved seven Major-Generals, 45 Brigadier Generals and 597 other ranks would not go away in a hurry emerged as military authorities reportedly set up a panel to investigate how the document tagged “Top secret” got to the public.
Top Army sources told Daily Sun that those to be investigated were mostly personnel attached to the Office of the Military Secretary, located at the Mambilla Barracks, which is responsible for the promotion, appointment and redeployment of officers in the army.
Already, a team of investigators comprising mostly personnel of the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) have been directed to unravel those responsible for the “dastardly act of betrayal.”
The investigators who are said to have commenced work to fish out those army authorities described as “disloyal” would soon pick up those perceived to have connived with their collaborator to leak the said document.
The investigators, Daily Sun gathered, would upon completion of investigation hand over the suspects to personnel of Nigerian Army Corp of Military Police (NACMP) for possible prosecution before a General Court Martial.
Sources further said investigators may spread their dragnet to officers who got copies of the said document that is perceived to have a religious, political, tribal and vindictive motives in some quarters.
Unlike the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) that publishes names of newly promoted officers and new appointment to the various units and commands, sources say the Army may not have made the list public owing to “ulterior motives” which has ruffled feathers.
Sources said the development has raised palpable disquiet in the Department of Army Secretary as personnel now live in fear, as most of their phone lines, e-mail messages and Whatsapp messages suspected to have been used to send the document were being screened.
The Army authorities have been enmeshed in scandals of alleged lopsided promotions and appointments, which forced the Army Chief, Lt-General Tukur Buratai to issue a warning to personnel against leaking secret documents to the public.
Before then, Buratai had organised a seminar for clerks and other personnel responsible for keeping records to educate them on how best to safeguard secret documents in order not to jeopardise national security and unauthorized disclosure of information, which is subject to official secret act.
Daily Sun gathered that the recent deployment, which the service said was an amendment to earlier redeployment done in May 2017, was being perceived as bias.
In the last deployment in May 2017, the Army had effectively made all the General Officers Commanding the Divisions of the force, including Commanders of the North East Operation Lafiya Dole, to come from one part of the country.
Following bickering over the earlier redeployment approved by Buratai on July 18, 2017, the Army authorities, yesterday, reversed the posting of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major-General Adeniyi Oyebade.
Gen. Oyebade, an officer from the South West was among senior officers redeployed earlier this year by army authorities but never assumed office as the Chief of Logistics at the Army Headquarters.
Army spokesman, Brigadier-General Sani Usman, confirmed to Daily Sun that Oyebade “is still and remains the General Officer Commanding, 1, Division of the army in Kaduna.”
“Contrary to insinuations by that medium (online), postings and appointments are routine administrative and career development of officers. Unlike what was reported, the present Chief Army Staff believes in planning, hence instead of releasing postings and appointments in piecemeal, postings are now done on quarterly basis, except on special circumstances that bordered on exigencies. What you saw on the medium was released last week, precisely on 18th July 2017 but tampered with by either the medium or the person that obliged them with it,” Usman said.
Daily Sun, however, gathered that while the posting is now generating bad blood and tension among army personnel who considered the entire exercise as bias, some others say the posting may not be unconnected with the retirement from service of those who have completed their mandatory 35 years in service to pave way for the younger ones to grow.
This is even as sources say more officers would be retired in the coming days and weeks as the authorities have compiled names of those to be retired which it would present at the upcoming Army Council meeting schedule to hold any moment from now.
The Army Council is made up of the President/Commander-in-Chief, Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff, Military Secretary, among other senior officers as members.
The council, among other functions, ratifies and approves the appointment, retirement, and confirmation of judgment from court martial among other crucial decisions concerning officers.
The Army had in May 2017 initiated a shake-up shortly after the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force, Muhammadu Buhari travelled to London for medical attention.
The Army first appointed new Task Force Commander and new GOCs fueling speculations that it was realigning and positioning officers from a particular part of the country to forestal possible military insurrection.
General Usman in a statement then, said, the new posting was “in a bid to re-strategise the Nigerian Army.”
However, few weeks after the posting, Army raised the alarm over a plan to launch a coup warning military officer to desist from nocturnal meetings with politicians.
Another statement by Usman, stated, “This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts.”
Although he did not disclose the “political reasons” military sources said the Army was disturbed by rumours of a coup allegedly being planned by junior officers.
Investigation also showed that while some officers in the rank of Major-Generals, who were due for retirement have retired from service, some others were given appointment letters by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to work in a committee set up to investigate human rights abuses levelled against some army personnel.