The immediate past Chief of Army, Staff. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, has said that the service under his leadership was compelled to take unusual measures to rescue the Army from collapse.
Minimah was referring to the setting up of various general military court martials to try officers and soldiers for offences ranging from mutiny, cowardice and indiscipline among Army personnel involved in the ongoing counter insurgency operation in the North East.
He said the measures which were adopted against cowardice and indiscipline became necessary to prevent the Army from drifting towards anarchy.
Minimah said he was leaving behind an Army that could be entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country against any enemy.
The former COAS made the comment while handing over the leadership of the service to his successor, Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Thursday.
He said the Army under his leadership has been able to ensure the reclamation of all territories erstwhile occupied by the insurgent in addition to weakening them and reducing drastically, their fighting potential.
He stressed that the insurgents were faced with certain defeat.
He said, “As I hand over today, I am happy to inform you that the Boko Haram terrorists’ insurgency is at a certain defeat.
“During my tenure, we were able to reclaim all territories earlier lost to the terrorists, sufficiently degrade their potency and reduced them to a band of criminals and petty thieves.
“Success did not come cheap. It came with the sweat and blood of all of us. In the face of unusual events, we had to take unusual actions.
“Some may adjudge us as being too strict especially in dealing with cases of cowardice and indiscipline in the field.
“But, we had to do what we must to arrest the drift towards chaos that the Army was heading. I am happy that the result in the field today justifies our actions.
“Today I am leaving behind an Army that can hold its own against any adversary without batting an eyelid. An Army that has vowed never again to concede any inch of Nigeria to terrorists. It is a legacy I am leaving behind and I implore you to sustain it.”
He stated that he took over the Army at a time the violence perpetrated by the Boko Haram against the Nigerian state was reaching an unprecedented level.
He recalled that the rampaging insurgents almost brought the Army and indeed the nation’s military to its knees with the sacking of military barracks, seizure of equipment, arms and ammunition and the wanton killing of innocent Nigerians.
Minimah said the situation was not helped by low troops’ morale, and the tendency of soldiers to flee the battle field at the advance of the enemy which made it imperative for the drastic steps taken by the military leadership to deal decisively with terrorism and criminality in the country.
Minimah also gave the indication that some very senior officers of the Army might have been given notices of retirement.
Although, he did not give the number of those affected by the exercise, he urged those affected to take the notifications for retirement in good faith.
He said jokingly that the affected officers were given six weeks’ notice to proceed on retirement unlike the service chiefs whose retirements were announced on the radio.
He advised such officers not to complain and to resist writing to the authorities for extension of their period in the service.
Speaking also, the new COAS, Buratai, assured Minimah and indeed the military leadership that high priority would be given to the maintenance of discipline in the Army under him.
“Your tenure as COAS has brought discipline into the Army. Discipline must be maintained. The highest standard of discipline must be maintained,” he said
He pledged his loyalty to the President and urged all the officers and men of the military to be loyal to constituted authorities in the country.
Shortly after the handing over ceremony, Buratai headed to the North-East for his first encounter with troops as the Chief of Army Staff.