Major General Farouk Yahaya, the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS), assumed office on Friday afternoon at the Army headquarters in Abuja, raising the possibility of compulsory retirement for more than 20 of his seniors.
Farouk joined the Nigerian Army through the Nigeria Defence Academy where he was part of the 37 Regular Course and was commissioned into the army in 1990. He was the 26th in seniority in the Nigerian Army. His appointment has left speculations that those who are senior to him would be retired.
This speculation is not unfounded as the Nigerian Army is very much based on seniority. During the military regime, the appointment of less senior officers into positions like the COAS or Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) meant compulsory retirement for many high-ranking officers since they could not take orders from their junior.
A serving military officer told FIJ about the difficulty of working under subordinates or to be under their command.
“In the military there are people you senior by three months and it’s a big deal, as the new COAS, Farouk, can compulsorily retire the senior officers,” the officer said.
The current Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, is of the 34 Regular Course. Most of those who will be retired are from 35 Regular Course, 36 Regular Course and 37 Regular Course, the COAS’ course mates.
Also, a security expert told FIJ that the retirement of many of these senior officers would signify a military that is loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari. This explanation comes against past speculations of a coup potentially taking place, prompting the army to restate its loyalty to the President.
A May 3 press release by Onyema Nwachukwu, a Brigadier-General and Acting Director of Defence Information, warned “all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality (a coup)”.
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