Buhari can lawfully extend tenure of service chiefs ― Civil right lawyers

Following several calls for the removal of Service Chiefs across the country, some civil rights lawyers have stated that the president is at liberty to delay the retirement of any military chief whose services are still needed, warning that service chiefs should not be blamed or victimised because while calls for a change of guards in security apparatus suggests a failure on part of those in charge, there is a need to ask if really they have failed.

The lawyers led by Osuagwu Ugochukwu Esq and Ogboli Charles Esq, on Sunday stated that contrary to claims by critics that President Muhammadu Buhari lacks power under the law to extend the tenure of service chiefs, the Revised Armed Forces of Nigeria’s Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service 2017 (HTACOS) empowers the president to extend the tenure of the security chiefs, irrespective of age or length of service.

They argued that Part 1, Section 11.08 of HTACOS states that an officer appointed the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff shall be a four-star general and may hold the appointment for a continuous period of two years.

“The C-in-C may extend such an appointment for another period of two years from the date of expiration of the initial two-year period.” Section 11.09 of the document states that “the foregoing notwithstanding, the President/C-in-C reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a CDS/Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service,” they said.

According to the lawyers, page 38 of HTACOS states that notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs 11.01 and 11.02, no commissioned officer shall be called upon to retire, relinquish or resign his commission or transfer to the reserve, nor shall pressure be exerted on him to do so except by the authority of the appropriate Service Council/Board and where an officer has objection on being called upon to retire or resign, he may seek redress up to the highest possible level.

Also, they argued that paragraph 11.09 affirms that the President reserves the prerogative to extend the tenure of a CDS/Service Chief irrespective of his age or length of service while 11.10 states that a career in the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a primary one since the Services require only able-bodied persons.

“It follows then that quite a number of officers are bound to retire when they can still be usefully engaged in other professions outside the military. We believe the Service chiefs should be supported to finish off the final lap of the battle. We also suggest that funds be raised to support the Army, Navy and Air Force to enable them to clear up the remaining insurgents.

“We suggest an endowment fund be created to enable Nigerians to donate to support our military financially. It should not be the government alone. On our part, we shall be pledging N100, 000 to support the troops in the war front as soon as this is done,” they promised.

They argued further that before current service chiefs are sacked, they should adequately fund the military and stop them from being able to only eye the superior weapons of their opponents.

“Our federal legislators can lead the way by ceding to the military, the billions appropriated for repairing their beautiful National Assembly- an edifice whose contrived defects have remained invisible. While we concede that people have the right to call for a change of service chiefs, we are however concerned that no one has provided credible evidence that the removal of the service chiefs would solve the problem at hand.

“We posit that if care is not taken, Nigeria may once again be dealing with the symptom rather than the cause of her problem. Put differently, if new service chiefs emerge now to operate in the existing convoluted environment, the required change would hardly come,” they concluded.

 

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