Military sources are saying that the Army hierarchy was disturbed by rumours of a coup being planned by Nigeria junior officers.
Elombah.com has learnt fears of imminent coup was behind the British government warning against violent change of government in the country, on Wednesday.
The British government today warned against “non-democratic” change of government in Nigeria, amid speculations about a planned military coup as concerns grow over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health.
“The British government believes that democracy is actually critical in Nigeria,” the United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, said on Wednesday. “There are elections. If you’re not happy with your leaders then you should change your leadership through the democratic process and through elections.”
The High Commissioner spoke on the sidelines of an event held in Abuja to formally launch a new report on corruption in Nigeria which was put together by UK policy think-tank, Chatham House.
Army Chief Warns Soldiers
The warning came a day after the army warned of undue interactions between its officers and politicians.
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, had given a stern warning to army officials to stay off politics and politically related activities.
Mr. Buratai gave the order on Tuesday via a statement issued by the Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general.
“This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts”.
Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, had even raised the issue with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and promised to nip it in the bud, Elombah.com was told.
The concern informed Mr. Buratai’s decision to reshuffle the postings of top military generals last week, sources say.
The rumours worsened following President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent sickness that saw him travelling to London for further treatment, weeks after he spent over 50 days in London for medical reasons. Like in his previous trip, the president wrote the National Assembly transferring powers to his deputy, Mr. Osinbajo.
On Tuesday, the army chief warned all officers and soldiers interested in politics to resign their commission or apply for voluntary discharge forthwith.
“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,” the army spokesperson said.
The Obasanjo, Babangida and Abdulsalami Meeting
Former Nigerian leaders, Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, has also met over the state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The leaders, in a closed-door meeting at the Minna hilltop residence of Babangida, two weeks ago were said to have considered all constitutional options available for the country in the face of the inability of President Buhari “to effectively function” as president.
According to a source privy to the meeting, the trio agreed to “continue to closely watch the situation and “will speak out” at the appropriate time.
Nigeria has witnessed 18 years of uninterrupted democracy after the last military government relinquished power in 1999. The country in 2015 also witnessed its first ever opposition victory which saw the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party losing presidential and parliamentary elections to the incumbent All Progressives Congress.
Mr. Usman on Tuesday reiterated that the Nigerian Army will remain apolitical and respect the Nigerian constitution at all times.
Northern Elders Forum Warns Osibanjo
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum has declared that the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo cannot replace President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 should anything happen to Buhari who has been abroad for a medical follow-up.
Chairman of Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, said if President Muhammadu Buhari fail to seek re-election in 2019, the North must retain the presidency by fielding a candidate through the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, party.
Abdullahi said although Professor Osinbajo, according to the constitution, should be allowed to complete the current tenure being Buhari’s Vice, he must not contest in 2019 should Buhari fail to recontest for a second term.
“The constitutional provision says that in the event that the president dies in office or becomes incapacitated for one reason or the other and cannot perform the duties of his office, he will be succeeded by the Vice president.”
“But no one is in a position to know at what point he is going to recover fully and come back to office, or whether the unexpected could happen. The northern elders insist that Osinbajo cannot replace Buhari in 2019.”
“If the worst case scenario happens, and Buhari is not back on seat, the constitution is very clear that the vice president takes over.”
“And what we then expect is that he will take that tenure to its logical end and from there, the politics of power sharing will take precedence over anything else,” Abdullahi said.
He also said that, “When the unexpected happens, in 2019, we will be back to our position that the north should be treated equitably and fairly.”
“And we expect that another northern candidate will emerge as presidential candidate on the platform of APC.”
Fear of coup lingers
Political watchers believe the above sabre rattling, including the intervention of the British government indicates something is in the offing, or may have been nipped in the bud.
We know how soldiers set the stage for coup d’etat, Abdul Mahmud told Elombah.com.
“History is our aid. When Uba Ahmed promised the historical landslide and moonslide of the NPN in April, 1983, opposition politicians of the UPN and NPP warned him of the dangers of stealing the peoples mandate.
“Then, Gen Wushishi, Chief of Army Staff, entered the fray. He warned soldiers who were mingling with politicians to do something sinister to the constitution to desist.
“NPN had its landslide. The nation erupted with the old Ondo up in flames.
“Power was slipping from a section of the country… Then, soldiers struck!
“A northerner was named as the military head of state. Power returned to a section of the country…We are back to 1983”.
General Buratai is playing the same old game… setting our country on the beaten road”, the lawyer and political commentator concluded.
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