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Fall out of New service chiefs, 100 military generals may go

About 100 top officers, including generals, brigadiers-general, air vice marshals, and admirals in the Nigerian Army, Air Force, and Nigerian Navy may proceed on compulsory retirement.


Following the appointment of new service chiefs on Monday by President Bola Tinubu, a good number of top military officers may proceed on retirement while some will be promoted to their next rank in the tradition of the force.

This is happening six months after 24 major generals and 38 brigadier generals retired last December after serving the nation for 35 years.

Recall, the President announced the immediate retirement of General Lucky Irabor who was the Chief of Defence Staff; the Chief of Army Staff, Lieut Gen Farouk Yahaya; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, and Air Marshal Oludayo Amao, the Chief of Air Staff and replaced them with new military chiefs.

The new service chiefs are Maj Gen Christopher Musa who is the Chief of Defence Staff; the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen Taoreed Lagbaja; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla while Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar was appointed the Chief of Air Staff.

DIG Kayode Egbetokun was appointed as the acting Inspector-General of Police and Maj. Gen. E Undiandeye, Chief of Defence Intelligence.

Also, a former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who was appointed last week as the Security Adviser to the President, was elevated to the National Security Adviser.

In line with precedence, Maj Gen Musa will adorn a full four-star General rank while Lagbaja will be decorated with the three-star rank of Lieutenant General and Ogalla with the same rank equivalent of Vice Admiral and Abubakar with the Air Marshal rank.

But the decoration with the new ranks by the President would come after Senate confirmation.

It is a tradition in the military that when a junior is appointed as a service chief, senior officers, who are ahead of him or her, would proceed on retirement.

The understanding is that senior military officers are unlikely to take orders from their juniors.

While the new CDS is a member of 38 Regular Course, the COAS, the CNS, and the CAS are members of 39 Regular Course.

Multiple sources said it meant that the security chiefs were junior to some generals who are members of Courses 37 and 38.

An impeccable source explained that about 100 top officers spread across the Army, Air Force and Navy could leave the service in the coming weeks because, in the military, it is improper for a senior officer to serve under his juniors.

Speaking to one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, a retired general explained that many top brass, particularly, members of Course 37 and Course 38 would likely leave the service.

Though the former military officer was not sure of the number of senior officers that may retire in the army, air force and navy, he explained that the figure could be as high as 100.

He stated, “Top officers that would leave the service may be up to 100 because it cuts across the three services. The retirement exercise would not affect RC 39 officers; they would simply go to the Defence Headquarters because the Chief of Defence Staff is RC 38.

Certainly, RC 37 and 38 officers will leave the service. Though, some of them may be retained because the last time, COAS Yahaya, who was a member of RC 37 retained some of his mates. So, he is leaving with his course mates now.’’

On the number of officers that make up a regular course, the source said there was no fixed number, adding “Along the line, some of them would have been weeded out through retirement, deaths, accidents, sickness and other factors. So, the course members that get to the top level are usually about 20 or 30 percent of the officers that enrolled together.’’

Corroborating the retired general, a serving military officer noted, “All officers who are senior to the new service chiefs are supposed to go home; mostly senior officers who are members of Course 37, 38 and some of 39.

“I said some Course 39 members because they are coursemates of the new service chiefs. Some service chiefs may choose to work with some of their course mates and others may decide not to work with them, but 37 and 38 will certainly go.

“Course 39 officers are to go too but some may be allowed to head the tri-services like the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigeria Defence College, and Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre”.

Another source said the course mates of the former CDS cannot be retained because they are seniors to the three service chiefs.

He stated, “Yes, the CDS is a member of Course 38, but by military tradition, he is not expected to make any appointment from among his course mates because the COAS, CNS, and CAS are members of Course 39.

“If he does, they would be senior to them. Even those in Course 39 will go. Those that would escape being retired are those who are on senior courses at foreign missions. Looking across the three services, that number may be more than 100.”

It was further learnt that all officers under Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 39 who could not be accommodated at Defence Headquarters are to proceed on voluntary retirement.

Former CDS General Irabor is a member of the NDA Regular Course 34. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant on June 28 1986 into the Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army.

The former COAS, Lt Gen Yahaya is a member of the 37 Regular Course of the NDA. He commenced officer cadet training on September 27, 1985 and was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Corp of Infantry as a Second Lieutenant on December 27, 1990.

Vice Admiral Gambo, the ex-CNS, is a member of 36 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy, and Air Marshal Amao, the 21st CAS, joined the Armed Forces of Nigeria as a Cadet of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 35 in January 1984.

On the other hand, the new CDS Maj Gen Musa is a member of the 38th Regular Course of NDA and he was commissioned into the Infantry Corps on September 21, 1991.

The 23rd COAS, Maj Gen Lagbaja is a member of NDA RC 39 and was commissioned on September 19, 1992 while Vice Admiral Ogalla, the new CNS is a member of NDA 39 Regular Course.

The new CAS, Air Vice Marshal Abubakar enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force as a member of NDA RC 39 and was commissioned as a pilot on September 19, 1992.

Those who are likely to retire alongside the former service chiefs include the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Maj Gen Ibrahim Yusuf and the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral Murtala Bashir.

Others are the Chief Of Policy and Plans, HQ NAF, AVM IG Lubo; the Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, Air Vice Marshal Oluwarotimi Tuwase.

The Director of Defence Information, Brig Gen Tukur Gusau could not be reached for comments as of the time of filing this report. He did not respond to calls and he had yet to reply to a text message as of press time.

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