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Re: Nigeria’s army signals willingness to intervene as protests against police brutality continue

By Oduche Azih

The largely discredited Nigerian military under the command of General (Rtd) Muhammadu Buhari has kept up with its false notion that the General, with an incurable ear infection, is one of them. Neither the National Assembly nor the Media has had the gumption to call them to order.

The oath of loyalty sworn by the military to uphold the Nigerian Constitution by obeying legal orders of the President and Commander-in-Chief is by extension loyalty to the Nigerian people. In a dispute between the masses and their president, the army cannot imagine itself a tool or ally of the President. General Buratai and his misguided Public Relations subordinates, Gen Enenche, etc cannot presume to understand the President more than the public or the President himself. The kind of protests that we see these days are akin to a popular Vote of No Confidence from which President Buhari MAY or MAY NOT recover. The Army and other arms of the security agencies have absolutely no stake in the matter EXCEPT the illegitimate benefits that the military brass derive from the unsustainable status quo.

WHAT IF Buhari throws in the towel or meets the protesters more than half way, yielding to a lot more of their demands?

WHAT IF he commences #Restructuring of the country and the Security architecture, grants unconditional amnesty to those youths identified to have exceeded the so-called bounds of acceptable behaviour during the protests?

WHAT IF President Buhari orders the Police to stand down! . WILL GENERAL BURATAI and his men contradict him and SAY NO?

An army with a mind of its own, insisting on carrying out orders that it did not receive has gone completely rogue. That stance and the actions following it constitutes a côup d’ètat. Nigerians have had their fill of that.

Even in an engagement with a foreign adversary over complex disputes, the President can often order a delay or suspension of a counter attack allowing for a cooling off period and for Diplomacy to work. Will a Buratai led military disobey out of a misguided sense of being the sole repository of national pride and patriotism? We must endeavour to stamp out this dangerous mindset that has led Nigeria down a very sorry path whereby the military no longer knows its place. Buhari bears a big part of the blame for the more recent manifestations. Most of these incompetent pseudo-nationalist military commanders should have been shown the way out four years ago, having failed woefully on the Boko-Haram front. They were hired and retained to protect Nigerians not to terrorise them or to hold press conferences railing against Amnesty International.

Buhari should warn his generals. Any direct rantings that Buratai and others issue to their employers, the public, is tantamount to insubordination. We are supposed to take such nonsense from our elected political leaders speaking directly or through political appointees, these two categories being “easily” dispesable through a variety of legal means. Lai Mohammed is still there, isn’t he?

And Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina?
What about the Minister of Defence?

I just wonder if the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President are fully aware of the correct legal position governing these matters of military engagement with the public. If they are, then a necessary first step would be to order a media blackout of the military outside of strictly operational matters. We have heard more than enough from them. They should not be competing for media space with civil authorities. Enough is enough.

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