Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai warned officers against politics to save the nation’s democracy, The Nation learnt yesterday.
The alarm is believed to have followed an intelligence report that some politicians, who were uncomfortable with the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, were infiltrating the military.
There were no details of such infiltration in the statement, which warned officers not to hobnob with politicians.
The recent postings in the Army may have been part of the measures put in place to protect the nation’s democracy against shocks and threats, a source said.
Buratai also cautioned the unnamed politicians, who are said to have been placed under surveillance by security agencies, not to influence soldiers.
According to the source, who spoke in confidence, Gen. Buratai was disturbed that the ongoing professionalisation of the military might suffer a major setback if politicians were allowed to “infiltrate the system”.
The source said: “What Buratai did was a pre-emptive move by the military authorities as a result of intelligence report that some politicians were out to infiltrate the Armed Forces.
“The COAS decided to cry out following intelligence on the attitude of some politicians who were uncomfortable with the anxiety over the health of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Gen. Buratai’s warning to officers was to protect democracy, stress that the Armed Forces must subjugate themselves to civilian authority, pledge the military’s loyalty to the Presidency and caution politicians that officers cannot be used for political mischief, the source said. He pleaded not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media.
The army chief’s suspicion of the infiltration of the military is believed to have been fuelled by the crisis in Cote D’Ivoire.
Nigeria has condemned the mutiny in Cote D’Ivoire.
“But Gen. Buratai has used his statement to reassure Nigerians and the international community that the military will not meddle in politics. This alarm has paid off, with the United Kingdom and pro-democracy groups giving their backing to the present administration.
“And his alert has worked because all the reactions have shown that Nigerians will not accept the return of the military to power,” the source said.
Responding to a question, the source added: “I think the relevant security agencies have placed some of the suspected politicians on surveillance.”
Another source said Gen. Buratai gave the warning to douse tension in the Army over recent postings.
“These rumours started from the last military posting. There were many strategic appointments which some people felt went to the close confidants of the Army leadership.
“There were allegations that some trusted officers were put in areas of influence because of the backlash of the health of the President.
“But we have found out that those grumbling had no case because Buratai as a soldier’s soldier does not have any favourite. He places professionalism above ethnic or religious consideration. His goal is to keep the military united.”
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