By Moses Omorogieva
Lagos, Feb. 20, 2019 The Network on Police Reform In Nigeria (NOPRIN) has appealed for the re-instatement of 38 senior officers who were given compulsory retirement in 2016 by the Nigerian Army.
The National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Mr Ikechukwu Nwanguma, and counsel to the affected officers, Mr Abdul Mohammed made the appeal on Wednesday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on June 9, 2016, the Nigerian Army authority announced the compulsory retirement of 38 officers over alleged arms procurement fraud and other professional misconducts during the 2015 general elections.
Nwanguma particularly appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good offices to ensure justice that was done in the matter.
“There was no factual basis whatsoever for the punishment meted to the 38 officers by way of their purported compulsory retirement and subsequent false narrative to the media that the affected officers were corrupt.
“None of the 38 officers was ever queried, charged or tried by a court martial at any time.
“Therefore, the Army Council is in no position to sit over any disciplinary matter pertaining to any of the officers.
“NOPRIN, therefore, joins well-meaning citizens and groups in the country who are truly committed to justice and rule of law to call upon the President to review the arbitrary, unjust and unwarranted punishment meted to the Army 38 by Army Authority,” he appealed.
Muhammed on his part said he had earlier petitioned the president for what he described as unlawful disengagement from service of the officers.
He said that whatever was the crime of the officers, they should face the music by going through the right procedures of prosecution.
According to him, the army authority should tell the officers their offences and make them face court martial where they could defend themselves.
Muhammad noted that as at the time of their retirement by the army authority, some of the officers were serving in foreign missions, while some were at North-East region fighting Boko-Haram.
“I wonder where and when they carried out the offences committed.
“How can one be on the foreign mission and same time commits electoral fraud at home as alleged.
“Fraud and corruption are serious offences in Nigeria and there are laws to prosecute the offenders.
“The 38 army officers have nothing to do with the crime they were alleged to have been committed.
“As a matter of fact, the 38 officers were only used to replaced those who allegedly committed such crimes, while the offenders are still in the army.
“Our appeal to the President is that he should allow due process in this matter. If they are found guilty, they should be punished according to the law, “ he said.
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede