By Sunday Isuwa, and ISAIAH BENJAMIN,
The military yesterday dismissed rumours of impending coup in the country, saying Nigerians should not panic as there was no such attempt to topple the government of the day.
The Director of Information in Defence Headquarters, Major General John Enenche stated this at a press conference attended by spokesman of the army, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman and a representative of the spokesman of Navy.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai had recently warned officers of the Nigerian Army against fraternising with politicians, an admonition which had been interpreted to mean danger of impending coup.
But addressing journalists yesterday, Enenche said, “In summary, I want to tell you, on behalf of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, that nobody should be afraid of any coup. The armed forces are totally loyal to the Commander-In-Chief, and are in complete subordination to civil authorities.
“We are out there administering our troops to remain focus and be conscious of oath of allegiance that we have taken and are guided by the constitution of this country at all levels of command.
“I want to reassure the general public that there is nothing like that (coup) and nothing like that will ever be supported, will ever be encouraged. And should there be a sign of anything like that, there are extant and guiding rules and regulations which we normally follow.
“We (military) are not different from what is happening all over the world. Our armed forces, the present crop of officers and soldiers are in tune with the best international practices of governance and that is democracy’.
On the warning earlier issued by the army chief to officers and soldiers to steer clear of politics, Enenche described it as “professionally a command responsibility.”
He said it was a required routine to personnel to conform to military ethics in all ramifications, which includes interaction and exchange of visits among others.
He continued: “This command’s responsibility is exercised right from the highest echelon such as the office of the service chiefs to the lowest levels of command, hence the caution from the army in this case.
“Administratively, officers and men are regularly cautioned to exercise command and control by appropriate superior authorities through commanders at various levels. This is to prevent members of the armed forces from derailing from their core focus of total dedication to their oath of allegiance.
“However, it is pertinent to state that if there are signs of actions that point to likely breaches of military code of conduct as it were, cautions or warnings are issued, with possible investigation following it”.
According to Enenche, the mere mention of coup plot from some quarters are assertions which are not confirmed.
On May 6, Buratai who had warned officers and soldiers of the army to stay clear of politics or have themselves to blame also advised personnel who were interested in politics to “resign their commission or apply for voluntary discharge forthwith”.
The warning, he said, followed information received that “some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons”.
Buratia reminded them that the “Nigerian Army was a thorough professional, disciplined, loyal and apolitical institution that has clear constitutional roles and responsibilities.
“Any officer or soldier of Nigerian Army found to be hobnobbing with such elements or engaged in unprofessional conducts such as politicking would have himself or herself to blame”, he added.
Defence Of Nigeria’s Territorial Integrity Sacrosanct – CAS
Meanwhile, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, has said that the Nigerian Air Force was ever ready to defend the territorial integrity of the country against all forms of internal and external aggression.
This is coming barely a week after his army counterpart, Lt. General Tukur Buratai disclosed that some unscrupulous politicians have been approaching his officers and men for political assistance.
Abubakar stated this while addressing the Air force heads of formation in Kaduna yesterday during the second quarter meeting with branch chiefs, AOCs, Commanders and Commandants of NAF.
The CAS told the senior officers that the Air Force must continue to carry out its constitutional duties professionally and ensure that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is not undermined by any group or groups.
He said, “We are more than ever committed to defend the territorial integrity of this country. We are also more than ever committed to monitor oil criminals and other activities challenging the smooth running of the country. We are going to equip the various units so they can perform their roles effectively”.
Abubakar said the reason for the meeting was to appraise the operational, logistics and other activities of the air force so as to articulate what it intends to achieved in the second quarter.
The CAS who also commissioned the newly rehabilitated 401 flights control tower said the new structure and the modern equipment therein will assist greatly in the operation of the flying training school and flying operations of the force.
“The control tower is a very important infrastructure in overall flying activities of the military in Kaduna area. What we have here now is a better equipment, stress-free compared to what was there before and we believe that what we have here is going to add value to what we are doing in terms of training and air traffic control”, he said.