* Buratai, redeploys Military Secretary
From Molly Kilete, Abuja
There is tension in the Nigerian Army following the forceful retirement from service of about 200, officers.
Their retirement was conveyed to them in a letter dated September 27 by the Military Secretary, Army, Major-General I. O. Rabiu, who has since been removed from office for the action.
In the letter, the Military Secretary, also handed them an October 15 deadline within which to apply for voluntary retirement or get compulsory retirement from service.
Mostly affected are officers in the ranks of Major-Generals, Brigadier-Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant-Colonels and some junior officers.
In the latest forceful retirement from service, the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, was the most hit as it had about 30 of its officers mostly consultants, surgeons, and other specialist affected.
It was gathered that the retirement which affected virtually all the corps of the army, sent commandants of army training schools across the country packing, thus forcing the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, to probe the motive behind the move without the consent of the authority.
However, army authorities is said not to have found the latest exercise funny as it is said to be taking steps to reverse the order which was gathered may have been the sole handiwork of the former military secretary.
The retirement if not reversed is said to be capable of crumbling the army especially at this time when the service is overstretched and engaged in several internal security operations across the country.
Sources hinted that most of the officers affected were those who attended the Nigeria Army Military School (NMS), Zaria, before joining the army and those who converted to executive commission from soldiers to become officers. Also affected are SSC, DRC and DSSC officers.
Daily Sun, gathered that trouble started for the former military secretary after some of the affected officers replied to his letter of retirement to them and copied the COAS, General Buratai, and other principal staff officers at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
In the said letter, the affected officers had appealed to Buratai, to direct the former military secretary to rescind the decision and recall the notification of retirement written to them.
They were also said to have pointed out blunders by the former military secretary which is against the Harmonized Terms and Conditions Of Service (HTACOS), for officers 2012 (revised)
Buratai, who was said to have been shocked at the revelation, since he was not aware of the development invited the military secretary for explanation which did not go down well with him.
To get to the root of the matter, Buratai, was said to have immediately set up a panel headed by the newly appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Kaduna, Major-General M. Mohammed as chairman and five other senior officers in the rank of Brigadier-Generals to look into the matter and make recommendation.
The panel in its report submitted October 18 found the action of the former Military Secretary, as unwarranted and capable of causing disaffection in the army, and advised the COAS, accordingly.
Few days after they submitted their report, the Military Secretary was removed from office on October 26, and another appointed in acting capacity.
The newly appointed acting Military Secretary, Brigadier-General Yahaya assumed office Monday.
It was also gathered that part of the recommendations by the committee was for the army authorities to withdraw the retirement letters from the affected officers as their exit could crumble the service especially at this time when the army has its hands full.
Daily Sun, gathered that the army authorities may be conducting a discreet investigation into the matter to unravel the circumstances behind the sole decision of the former military secretary to have taken such a sensitive decision.
There are also suspicion that the senior officer may be working with some elements outside the Nigerian Army to have arrived at the decisions that is capable of causing unnecessary tension in the service.
Investigation by Daily Sun, revealed that the former military secretary who has been redeployed to the Defence Headquarters, had in his letter of notification of retirement from service to the affected officers, with reference number AHQ MS/G1/300/, dated September 26, and 27 cited the Public Service Rule 2008, edition instead of the Harmonized Terms and Conditions Of Service (HTACOS), for officers 2012 (revised), as references for their sudden retirement from service which they faulted.
The affected officers argued that the former military secretary breached the extant provisions of HTACOS, for officers 2012, misapplied the PSR(2008), provisions of maximum length of service and age for retirement for officers and soldiers and appealed to the army to direct the former military secretary to rescind the decision and recall the notification of retirement to them.
When contacted to find out whether or not the army is making plans to reverse the decision of the former military secretary, the Director Army Public Relations Brigadier-General Sani Usman, did not pick his call. Similarly he did not reply to a text message sent to his mobile telephone at the time of filing this report.