The Young Christians Forum of Nigeria (YCFN) has described as unfounded allegations of lopsided recruitment, postings, appointments and retirements of military personnel by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
Nigerians were taken aback last week when malicious reports spread across the media about the military’s alleged favouritism for a particular religion and region.
A statement on Tuesday by Onyeama Nwachukwu, Acting Director Defence Information, had rubbished claims that over 200 officers from a particular geo-political zone and religion, in the first quarter 2019, were retired prematurely.
After thorough fact-finding through its members in the Federal Character Commission, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Airforce and other related authorities, the YCFN backed the Armed Forces’ stands.
This was made public in an extensive report signed by its President Rev. Nathaniel Ochimana but represented at the press conference by Vice President, Bright Sunday.
According to the Christian group, the assertion of premature retirement of Christian officers and lopsided recruitment of northern Muslims, postings, and appointments are utterly misleading.
“We wish to state that the Young Christians Forum of Nigeria, an organization consisting of Christians from all works of life in Nigeria was taken aback by the claims that some Christian officers were silently retired from the Armed Forces and replaced by Muslims by the leadership of the Armed Forces led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin,” the group began.
“So as not to leave any stone unturned, the Young Christians Forum investigated the claims with a view to ascertaining the correctness of the news making the rounds in the public domain.”
Upon completion of investigations, however, the group discovered that there was never a time in the history of the Armed Forces that promotions and retirements were based on ethnic or religious factors.
“Findings gathered from the Federal Character Commission indicates that no such infraction was recorded in the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin
“Findings from personnel from the Army, Navy, and Airforce debunked the claims of mass retirement of Christians officers and the recruitment and lopsided posting of Muslim officers to replace them.
“Findings from the National Human Rights Commission also indicates that the commission is not in receipt of any petition on religious and ethnic discrimination in the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The Christian group, therefore concluded that the allegations were concocted, and a deliberate falsehood aimed at sowing the seed of bitterness in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
They added that “the Young Christians Forum of Nigeria believes that the news is highly misleading and capable of puncturing the harmonious working relationship between Christians and Muslims in the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We also wish to state that from the interactions we had with some select officers and men of the Armed Forces, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin upon resumption of office has instituted a number of reforms that ensures a strict adherence to the rules of engagement as it concerns discipline, promotion, postings and retirement from the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Young Christians Forum of Nigeria consequently wishes to sound a note of warning to the political detractors to stay away from the activities of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria so they can concentrate on the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
“The Young Christians Forum of Nigeria also wishes to state that the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not an ethnic or religious organization and hence it should not be associated with the promotion of ethnic or religious agenda.
“The Young Christians Forum of Nigeria also wishes to remind the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that they are indeed patriots and never give in to the cheap blackmail been bandied around by detractors.”