President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the removal of all the service chiefs and an announcement is expected anytime from now, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Those set to be replaced, according to THEWILL’s sources, are the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, 57; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, 59; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, 59; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, 59.
There have been calls to replace the chiefs, who were appointed by the president in July 2015, due to the lapses in the war against the Boko Haram, as well as the rising insecurity across the country, particularly in northern Nigeria.
“The President has signed off on their removal. An announcement is imminent… Not in weeks but in days.
I believe the timing will be right after we’ve marked Inauguration Day. The NSA, General Babagana Monguno, may be affected in the shake up as well,” one of the presidency source said, asking not be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.
According to the Armed Forces Terms and Conditions of Service, all four were due for replacement in July 2017, having met the threshold for retirement but the president had been encouraged by his now deceased Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, to keep them on the job despite protests from the public and the military.
The President appears to have caved in to pressure and counsel from his new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as well as domestic aides, who had previously unsuccessfully canvassed for their removal.
Olonisakin has spent 38 years in service, Buratai 36 years, Ekwe Ibas 36 years and Abubakar 40 years.
Section 8 of the public service rules stipulates that the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.
“No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier,” according to the public service manual.
***Corrigendum: We have deleted a part of this report that said the present service chiefs are the longest serving chiefs on record. This is incorrect. We regret the error.