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Vol 62 No 3

Published 4th February 2021


After mounting security pressure, President sacks service chiefs

Sacking of the high command is part of a wider security reorganisation

Security experts in Abuja estimate that Nigeria's military, being deployed in over 30 of the country's 36 states, is under more pressure today than at any time since the civil war. That is driving President Muhammadu Buhari's belated rethink of the government's security strategy and his sacking the four service chiefs on 26 January.

For over a year the chiefs – General Abayomi Olonisakin (Defence), Lieutenant Gen Tukur Buratai (Army). Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas (Naval), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Air) – had fought back against a campaign for their dismissal, including resolutions by both houses in the National Assembly and indirect pressure from western states offering Abuja more military cooperation to fight the insurgents and criminal gangs sweeping across the north of the country if the chiefs were sacked.

Buhari has not yet explained his reasons for the sacking but it seems to be part of a wider shake-up in the security system which started earlier this month with the redeployment of over 1,500 officers, including 210 generals. The new high command is: Chief of Defence Staff – Major General Leo Eluonye Onyenuchia Irabor (from Delta State); Chief of Army Staff – Maj Gen Attahiru Ibrahim (Kaduna State); Chief of Air Staff – Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao (Osun State); and Chief of Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Awwal Zubaru (Kano State) (AC Vol 62 No 1, Ready to rumble & Vol 61 No 4, Protest, what protest?). 

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