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Agbambu: Action of government is not witch-hunting




Patrick Agbambu is a security expert and chief executive of Security Watch Africa. He told ODITA SUNDAY that the recent purge in the military is aimed at weeding out corrupt elements.

The government of Muhammadu Buhari has begun ‘cleaning’ of the military; already 60 officers were sent home for what the military referred to as their complicity in electoral malfeasance. How has this action of government added to the tension in the land?

Every decision of government must come with its attendant effects. To me, this decision is not an exception. It has not added negatively to any tension in the land. This decision is more preemptive than punitive.

There is a troubling perception of witch-hunt, given that many of those sacked are alleged to be loyal officers, who served prominently in the last administration. Do you see it like that?
I disagree that this is witch-hunting. Who is witch-hunting who? Did the officers commit what is alleged? Were they given fair hearing before arriving at the decision? To my knowledge, they were.

Do you think government is setting the right precedence?

This is not precedence. It has been done before. The governments of President Obasanjo retired or dismissed officers, who were politically exposed. Even the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, retired so many officers to make room for his choice to become the Army Chief. There are actions that many not seem morally or logically correct, but they are security and politically correct.

Do you think this action of government comply with the democratic principles of transparency and accountability?
I am informed that the Military Council thoroughly looked into the allegation against each officer, before arriving at the decision. Military tradition in the world over allows for internal scrutiny and investigation and it’s not open for public debate.

Some people fear this is another form of high-handedness and injustice by government?
The military must be populated with officers that are loyal to the civilian government. That is a way to stem coup or mutiny.

What are the likely implications for the continued confidence in the forces, if officers could be summarily dismissed for being ‘loyal’ to their former Commander-in-Chief, a loyalty that must be without compromise?
Military officers should not be involved in political activities.

How dispassionate is the Military Council in determining cases like this and how fair to geo-political sentiments is this exercise?
Geo-political or ethnic sentiments should be ruled out in this case. Must there be ethnic coloration to every issue? When President Jonathan’s government did the mass retirement of officers, it was alleged that only officers of Northern origin were affected, but was it true?

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