By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja.
Scores of retired military personnel on Monday converged at the Ministry of Defence in Abuja and staged a protest over the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others vowing not to leave until the government addresses their plight.
The ex-soldiers under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces (REMENAF) and the Coalition of Concerned Military Veterans (CCV), disclosed that Monday’s protest was the third phase of their protests noting that they came prepared with mats and other needed materials to spend the night if necessary.
The protesters pitched a tent and blocked access to the Ministry of Defence, Ship House along Olusegun Obasanjo Way
They said they had in January this year, picketed the ministries of finance, defence, and the National Assembly earlier, in pursuit of the same demand resulting in President Muhammadu Buhari approving payment of the debarment allowances as required by the government.
Speaking on the protest action, Amb. Roy Okhidievbie, National Secretary, REMENAF, disclosed that retired veterans trooped out despite the rains, for the demonstration to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government as approved.
He said the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) has refused to disburse the allowances even after it has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Commander in Chief.
According to him, “We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, but he appears to be heartless, and unperturbed about the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.
“The surprising part is that President Buhari has approved the payment of this allowance, but the minister Magashi has refused to make the disbursements.”
Also speaking during the protest, the spokesman for the Concerned Veterans, Abiodun Durowaiye Herberts noted that the protest was focused on the non-payment of the Security Debarment Allowance, pointing out that they were determined to sleep over at the entrance of the Ministry of Defence to make the government pay their entitlements.
He said, “We’re here, alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists.
“We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands”.
Recall that REMENAF, and CCV had last week issued an alert that the 3rd phase of protest by Military Veterans under the aegis of Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and Coalition of Concerned Veterans would hold at the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in the FCT saying “This is due to non– payment of Security Debarment Allowance (SDA) amongst other demands from the Federal Government.
The veteran’s groups noted that the 2nd phase of the protest was held early this year, on 5th January 2022 where the Ministry of Finance (MOF), Ministry of Defence (MOD) and National Assembly were picketed in pursuit of the same demands across major cities in Nigeria.
“Accordingly, the climax is the Ministry of Defence (MOD), on Monday 26th September 2022 in the FCT Abuja to actualize our demands”.
“The planned protest is meant to be peaceful with picketing/blocking of the access to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Ship House Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Area 10, Garki Abuja and adjourning areas”, they noted.