Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, COAS Kenneth Minimah has accused his predecessor of not being worthy of the rank as head of staff, in what appears to be a continued eagerness to ‘save his neck’ in the face of indictment for war crimes and criticism over failure to properly fulfill the duty of the military to provide security to the people.
Speaking at the Inter-Denominational Church Service to mark the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2015, NADECL, the Chief of Army said,
“I must set up court-martial and if you are in my place and you did nothing you are not worth being a Chief of Army Staff. I did that, I have no regret.
“I am setting up more court-martial to try people who ran, show cowardice, abandoned troops and equipment and ran away.”
It was understood he was referring to his predecessor who failed to order appropriate court martials for the hundreds of incidents.
The Nigerian army had come under tough critique for the four years former Chief of Army General Azubuike Ihejrika was in power and for the beginning of the Minimah tenure for abdicating their duty to protect the citizens of the northeast, being culpable as chiefs for not executing the expected court martial’s of whatever soldiers were guilty of running from the battle front leaving the citizens undefended.
Under pressure, the army chief Minimah has consistently responded by quickly ordering a frenzy of court martials to deliver death sentences. Nigeria’s army has in recent months had the most and most severe court martial track record in military history. Intelligence commentators say the Buhari government as with the Jonathan government by entertaining this diversion is betraying its responsibility and further imposing danger to the army and people of Nigeria.
It can be recalled that through out the years of the Boko Haram deadly crisis, till the military came under sharp rebuke, there were dozens of reports of intelligence reports and citizens passing on warnings of impending Boko Haram attacks to the chiefs of the army, this including in the Chibok abduction where over 200 girls were abducted from a school and there was prior actionable military intelligence warning of the attack and an extra 24 hours to respond during and after the attack but the military failed to respond.
The same picture was painted during the Giwa barracks attack and also the burning down of Baga in 2013, also in the 2014 fall of Mubi. In all these cases the military was witnessed to stand down on orders from above.
Critical intel reports that were also transmitted to the desk of the NSA Sambo Dasuki were routinely dismissed with no directive from the Office of the NSA and military chiefs for the soldiers to be prepared to act on the intelligence. SITREPs in NewsRescue possession including in 2015 during the recent attacks on Monguno and Maiduguri after President Jonathan’s campaign visit had clear pleas from officers on the ground for orders to engage Boko Haram ahead of terror attacks, but Abuja and the service chiefs gave no approval.
After Amnesty International and other human right groups like ENDS indicted the military for failing to act and for the no appropriate court martials if the army chiefs were not implicated in the stand down orders, the new COAS Minimah started a frenzy of court martials and sentencing soldiers to death.
An independent probe of the army has been requested and the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to punish the army chiefs by the United Nations for failing in their duties.
Former COAS Ihejirika’s probe has been urged also by the United States who accused him of amassing billions in a rapid period, shocking for an army General; money budgeted to buy equipment for the Nigerian army. Billions of dollars budgeted by the Jonathan government for over 5 years to fight Boko Haram remains unaccounted for.
It can be recollected that Boko Haram negotiator, Stephen Davis accused General Ihejirika of being a chief sponsor of the terror sect.