By Kingsley Omonobi & Joseph Erunke
Abuja—As activities for the 2019 general elections gather steam, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Tukur Buratai, has ordered the setting up of a standing special court martial to try senior army officers found complicit in favouring political groups and showing partisanship to politicians.
Consequently, the Army chief warned that any Army personnel found hobnobbing with politicians or being partisan, will be investigated and sent to the special court martial for trial.
Buratai, who spoke at the opening of COAS First Quarter Conference 2018 in Abuja, told senior officers, including Principal Staff Officers, GOCs, Commandants of Tri-service institutions and Field Commanders, that any one that runs foul of his professional ethics would be dealt with appropriately.
He said: “I must state clearly that any officer or soldier who wishes to be sympathetic to a political, religious or ethnic group should voluntarily retire from the Nigerian Army.
“Furthermore, all are reminded on 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 patronization as these would attract severe consequences. The fate of the 38 officers, who were retired (on account of alleged involvement in politics) is still fresh in our memories.”
While noting that concerns had been recently raised by individuals and groups about the actions of some units and formations in the course of operations, Buratai said: “This has led to very strong criticisms against the Nigerian Army. Some of the strongest comments have come from key citizens in Taraba State.
“Therefore, let me state emphatically that the unity and integrity of Nigeria lie on the military and Nigerian Army in particular. Any act inimical to the unity and integrity of this country by personnel of the Nigerian Army will be decisively dealt with.
“The Nigerian Army must remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles. GOCs and field commanders at all levels are, therefore, warned that anyone that flouts his professional ethics will be appropriately dealt with.”
Army launches electronic payment system for troops in operations
The Army chief used the opportunity to launch the Nigerian Army Integrated Payment System aimed at electronically capturing all financial transactions, including salary payments, operational allowances and equipment purchase payments for easy verification in terms of query.
Chief of Accounts and Budget, Major General Ezra Jakko, explained that by keying into the Federal Government’s IPPIS scheme, the Nigerian Army Finance Corps had been able to substantially reduce and checkmate challenges arising from payment of salaries, particularly payment of allowances of troops in several operations across the country.