The Nigerian Army Council has retired two senior officers, Brig.-Gen. Aliyu Momoh, who was indicted in the conduct of the 2015 elections in Ekiti State; the former spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Olajide Laleye, and other officers.
It was learnt on Sunday that the retirement of the senior officers was in connection with the recommendations of the panel set up by the Army authorities to look into allegations of professional misconduct against military personnel in the conduct of the June 14, 2014 governorship poll in Ekiti State and the 2015 general elections.
The panel was also directed to investigate the roles played by the military officers who participated in the August, 2014 governorship election in Osun State.
After the results of the Ekiti governorship election was released, where the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, was declared the winner, there were allegations that the Army personnel deployed in the state, led by Momoh, played active roles in an alleged rigging of the poll.
An officer of the Nigerian Army, Capt. Sagir Koli, who participated in the supervision of the poll, had leaked an audio recording of a meeting, featuring Fayose, Momoh, former Minister of State for Defence, Musliu Obanikoro; former Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Jelili Adesiyan; and the PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, among others, where the alleged rigging was hatched.
The individuals had stridently denied the rigging allegations.
The former Director, Army Public Relations, Laleye, who later became the Commander, 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army, addressed the press on the controversy over the secondary school certificate of the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
He had said the Army could not find the results of the West African School Certificate Examination of Buhari, who was Nigeria’s military Head of State between January 1, 1984 and August, 1985.
Buhari, who was contesting the presidential election as the candidate of the APC, had claimed, while submitting his nomination forms to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2014, that his WASCE result was in the custody of the Army.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, confirmed that “Gen. Momoh and others have been retired from the Army”.
The Army spokesman did not give further details of the retirement.
Investigation, however, revealed that the Army council met in February to consider the recommendations of the panel, set up by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to investigate allegations of professional misconduct against its personnel in the last elections.
The Board of Inquiry, led by the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, indicted some officers and recommended various degrees of sanctions for them in a report submitted to the Army chief on January 11, 2016.
The Oyebade-led panel recommended the compulsory retirement of two officers from the Army, three others for loss of command and one for prosecution for receiving financial gratification.
The panel recommended 15 officers to be put on the watch list and nine officers for investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Also, the panel said ‘‘six officers should face an audit panel and 62 officers (mostly of the rank of Major and below) should be given Letters of Displeasure and to appear before their respective GOCs for counselling.’’
Oyebade had said 23 officers, over 100 soldiers and 62 civilians appeared before the panel which was constituted on October 20, 2015 “to investigate the alleged unprofessional and unethical conduct of some Nigerian Army personnel in Ekiti and Osun states’ governorship election in 2014 as well as in any other state in Nigeria, where other allegations of misconduct were made during the 2015 general elections”.
Part of the committee’s terms of reference include “to review the involvement of the Nigerian Army formations/units and its personnel in elections and other duties in aid of civil authority”.
The Army authorities had said the investigation was designed “to prevent future unprofessional conduct by officers and men in the performance of their constitutional roles while strengthening Nigerian Army’s support to democratic values and structures”.