Yar’Adua’s absence: Military on alert • No holidays for commanders • Politicians wooing soldiers
By PHILIP NWOSU
“No commander is allowed to travel during the celebrations. Stay with your troops and celebrate with them. The Nigerian Army is not unaware of recent remarks in the press literally calling for what they term military solution to the political affairs of the country. While taking cognizance of the current democratic dispensation that respects the freedom of speech, the Nigerian Army dissociates itself from such remarks, as we are collectively resolute in operating within the confines of our constitutional roles.
“Whatever political disputes that may exist in our society, like they exist in all human society, they are best settled through constitutional means. Please the military should be left out of this.”
These are the words of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau to men and officers of the military at a recent Chief of Army Staff Conference. Consequently, the Nigerian Armed Forces may have been placed on high alert during this festive season to forestall any move to truncate President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration.
The alert, Sunday Sun, gathered may not be unconnected with the raging controversy over who governs the country in the absence of ailing President Yar’Adua and the fear in some quarters that the confusion may give the room for some extremists and mischief makers in the military to take over government.
It was gathered that the Service Chiefs have placed commanders of their troops on alert, urging them to cancel every trip that will take them away from their men.
Sunday Sun also learnt that the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau, had reiterated his warning to Brigade and Battalion Commanders to stay at their location during the Christmas and New Year celebration.
Dambazau had during the Chief of Army Staff Conference warned Brigade and Battalion Commanders to celebrate the Sallah and Christmas festivities with their troops.
A key Nigerian Army source told Sunday Sun that the warning was re-emphasized by the force and that a signal was reportedly issued to that effect.
The Army Chief had also warned the force’s personnel against working with politicians to undermine democracy, explaining that emerging security reports indicate that soldiers were being wooed by politicians to work against the country’s democracy.
He told senior military officers that intelligence reports indicated that politicians have been courting some military personnel to get involved and find a military solution to the political problems of the country.