By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA—Indications emerged yesterday that indicted former Commandant Infantry Centre Jaji, Major General M.D. Isah who is currently retired, may be recalled and made to face a court martial over negligence of duty that led to bombing of the Military Protestant Church in Jaji which killed over 20 people, including two Generals.
Vanguard gathered that the Board of Inquiry, BoI, in its report indicted the General for having prior knowledge of the bomb attack a day before the incident and he chose not to take any action to prevent it, neither did he give orders to his subordinates, but rather travelled for the Chief of Army Staff Conference in Asaba, Delta State, which made an enraged Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, to order him back to Jaji.
It will be recalled that the November 25, 2012 bombing claimed the lives of over 20 people, including an Air Commodore who was Director of the Airforce Faculty at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji and an Army General (names with-held).
General Ihejirika had said on Monday that General Isah, who was already aware that his retirement date was due, asked for one year extension which was turned down. He (Isah) claimed that his reason for asking for an extension was that he still has an idea and experience on how to checkmate terrorist attacks.
Speaking on promotions in the army, he said, “it might interest Nigerians to note that in 2011, we promoted 25 officers to the rank of Major General. Five out of this 25, all came from Kano State because the promotion was based on merit.
“That will explain to you that under my watch, I could not stand any of the officers being dropped because they clearly deserve it. With these few remarks I hope you have realized that when people talk about religious and ethnic considerations, these are issues that must be downplayed. It should not be brought into the army at all”.
He said that political scores should be settled elsewhere because the army is apolitical. Whoever becomes the president of the country becomes the Commander in Chief. So the military institution, particularly the army, needs to be protected.
“I spoke of my experience, as I sit here. I want to inform you that once in my career, I missed promotion. That was in 1998, promotion from the rank of Lt. Colonel to Colonel, at that particular time, I had PSc+, having taught in Staff College. I had commanded a unit 12 Field Engineer Regiment at Ijebu Ode. Among all the engineering officers promoted, I was the only officer that has held such command. That same year I missed the promotion, I had received commendation from the Chief of Army staff for the excellent performance of my unit in an exercise called “Exercise Eagle Ring One”.
This, he said, was the very first time that the exercise was being held and during the exercise, several bridges were declared blown by the enemy and under my supervision, we launched a medium cadre bridge that took heavy tanks across the bridge, hence I earned commendation by the Chief and in spite of all these, I missed my promotion.
“But what did I do, I went to the Military Secretary and asked, I said sir, was there anything I was not doing right? He said no, I should go back and just remain steadfast. The following year, I got promoted to Colonel. Today, I am Chief of Army Staff”.
Gen. Ihejirika, noted that his experience is not unique as General Victor Malu who later became chief of army staff had missed promotion once, General LN Yusuf who later became chief of army staff had also missed promotion.
“I want to draw your attention that military service is a service of sacrifice. I would have wished that every Nigerian had the opportunity to render one year selfless military service to his nation so that we begin to appreciate our job better. If an officer misses a promotion and he believes that is the end of the world, would such an officer give his life in the defence of his country?”