The recent coup alarm in the country, SaharaReporters has exclusively learned, was partly on account of disenchantment within the ranks of junior military officers, who are angry that many of their contemporaries were retired from service, while senior officers who have exhausted their mandatory years of service have been retained.
The retention of the senior officers already overdue for retirement, military sources told this website, has stagnated the careers of junior officers, who have been prevented from rising to the ranks of Major-General in the Army, Air Vice Marshal in the Air Force and Rear-Admiral in the Navy.
Documents available to SaharaReporters showed that the mandatory maximum number of service years in the military is 35 years after commission. This is boldly stated in the Harmonized Terms and Condition of Service (HTACOS). HTACOS was promulgated in 2012 to create parity among all service arms and prevent envy and disharmony. Paragraph 02:10(b) of the HTACOS states that military personnel are to be retired from service on the attainment of a specific age on specific ranks.
A Major-General in the Army, Air Vice-Marshal or Rear-Admiral in the Navy is expected to be retired from service upon attainment of the age of 56. A Brigadier-General in the Army, Air Commodore or Navy Commodore is due for retirement once he attains the age of 54.
Currently, however, the leaderships of the three service arms, said sources, have been ending the careers of junior officers not in their good books and illegally extending the careers of senior officers beyond the stipulated 35 years in disregard of the HTACOS.
Military sources blamed this development on ethnic considerations and senior officers’ friendship with service chiefs, with whom they were course mates. SaharaReporters’ investigation revealed that this has led to serious congestion in the senior officers’ cadre, leaving no room for competent junior officers to be elevated into it.
Our investigation revealed that at least 12 senior officers are currently benefiting - illegally - from the age on rank rule or have stayed in service for more than 35 years.
In this category is Major-General Pat Akem. Having been born on 23 July 1960, he is approaching 57 and should have exited the service last year when he turned 56 in line with the HTACOS. Military sources told SaharaReporters that he owes his continued stay in service to his closeness with acting President Yemi Osinbajo, with whom he is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He is also said to have worked with the United Nations in Somalia at the same time with Mr. Osinbajo.
Also included is Major-General JGS Hamakim, incumbent Director-General of the Nigerian Army Resource Centre. Born on 12 December 1960, he is approaching 57 and was commissioned in June 1982. Both facts show that he is in breach of the age on rank rule as well as years spent in service. He is said to be from Biu in Borno State, the same town as the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General TY Buratai. Another Army officer is Major-General A.O Amusu, who clocked 35 years in service this month.
In the Navy are Rear-Admiral GA Anyankpele, a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Regular Course 28, who is approaching 57 years, having been born on 15 June 1960; Rear-Admiral A.A Dacosta, born February 1961 and member of NDA Regular Course 28; Rear -Admiral E.G Ofik, born April 1961 and member of NDA Regular Course 29; Rear-Admiral BM Oguntola, born May 1961 and a member of NDA Regular Course 30; as well as Rear-Admiral JO Okojie, born on 31 May 1961 and member of Nigerian Navy Course 1.
The Air Force also has, at least, a quartet of officers in breach of the age on rank rule and the mandatory number of years of service. Leading this pack is Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) J.M Gbum. Born 15 May 1960, he was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force on 12 September 1981. AVM Gbum was a member of CMTC 5 and was senior to the current Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar. He was tipped to succeed the current Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Gabriel Olonisakin, when the latter was rumored to have been retired last December.
Also on the list is AVM A. A Iya, born in December 1959 and commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force in May 1982. So are AVM C.T Gudi, born on 15 February 1961 and commissioned in the same day as AVM Iya, and AVM TV Udoh, born on 16 March 1960.
Sources told SaharaReporters that the duo of AVMs Iya and Gudi were course mates to the current Chief of Air Staff and have benefited from three illegal extensions affecting age on rank and maximum number of years in service.
The same sources disclosed that two other course mates of the current Chief of Air Staff, AVMs F.B Nyokoko and C.N Chukwu, born 24 April and 13 August 1960 respectively, were retired last year.
“The violation of statutes and extant laws has given rise to retirement of competent officers, who could not be promoted due to lack of vacancies. There is now open grumbling about the situation, which may have resulted in the coup scare,” explained a source.