“Stay Off Politics,” Nigerian Army Chief and UK Govt warns Nigerian soldiers as coup rumours spread

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has 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”.
Although Mr. Usman did not disclose the “political reasons”, military sources had told the press that the Army hierarchy was disturbed by rumours of a coup being planned by junior officers.
A top military official told newmen that Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, had even raised the issue with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and promised to nip it in the bud.
The concern may have informed Mr. Buratai’s decision to reshuffle the postings of top military generals last week.

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.
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.
British Prime Minister, Theresa May
The British government has warned against “non-democratic” change of government in Nigeria, amid speculations about 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.
His comments came a day after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, warned of undue interactions between Army officers and politicians, as concerns mount over Mr. Buhari’s health.
The president traveled to London last week for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, just over a month after returning to Nigeria from an extended medical leave abroad.
“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 said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general.
Although the statement cited “political reasons” as grounds for the purported discussions between some military officers and politicians, it was silent on the specific discussions that took place or the individuals involved.

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