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Soldiers petition Buratai over suspension of voluntary discharge forms

Precious Igbonwelundu April 5, 2020 | EASTERN PILOT Soldiers attached to the 29 Battalion, Port Harcourt have petitioned the Chie...

Precious Igbonwelundu

April 5, 2020 | EASTERN PILOT

Soldiers attached to the 29 Battalion, Port Harcourt have petitioned the Chief of Army  Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai over alleged suspension of voluntary discharge from the Nigerian Army (NA) form 9B.

The soldiers, in a protest letter availed our The Nation, claimed the Battalion’s Realising Officer Major AC Ugwu has breached their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution and the  Armed Forces of Nigeria harmonised terms and conditions of service (HTACOS).

The petition, which was signed by one Lance Corporal Audi Chukwuma Oluwale, alleged that multiple applications of voluntary discharge letters submitted to headquarters 29BN by soldiers of the unit for accession, processing, endorsing and forwarding to appropriate superior  authorities for consideration were being withheld by battalion’s commander.

Citing a signal with reference number 29BN/G1/300/142 signed by Major Ugwu on March 20 and sent to all companies under the battalion which suspended all NA form 9B forwards, the petition expressed dismay at the directive.

According to the petition, the signal described as disheartening and worrisome the rate at which application for voluntary discharge from soldiers flooded the headquarters.

It also noted that the Officers in Charge (OCs) do not critically access the soldiers’ reasons for wanting to leave the army before forwarding their letters to the headquarters and consequently suspended the process with immediate effect.

Angered by the directive, the soldiers said it was unacceptable for them to be compelled to remain in service against their will since they joined the service voluntarily.

“With all due respect sir, this is unacceptable. Imagine a soldier who voluntarily joined the service without any duress is now being compelled to remain in the service even against his wish

“He has no capacity to stop anyone from applying for voluntary discharge at any given time. His job is to invite the soldier for interview, guidance and counselling or career review and if the soldier insisted, he has to forward the application to the ASA for review and consideration.

“I hereby wish to call on the Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. TY BURATAI to please call that commanding officer to order by setting up a board to  investigate the cause and find a lasting solution to the issue,” said Oluwale.

When our correspondent contacted Major Ugwu, he confirmed there was a signal suspending the action for the time being, adding that it was to allow the unit treat backlog.

Ugwu however told our correspondent to contact the Battalion’s Comannding Officer (CO) on whose directive he signed and released the signal.

According to him, the name of the soldier who signed the petition was fictitious as there was no such soldier in the unit.

He said: “The person that wrote that petition is fictitious. He did not include his full name. It is a chargeable offence. That name is not in 29 Battalion. The petitioner is not a soldier from my place. If he wrote for discharge, he should come out to say so.

“There are procedures and not about writing to the COAS. Is it the COAS that will reply them? Why are you calling me? Who gave you my number? I am not the CO and I am not Army Headquarters. If there are issues you want to address, look for the CO’s number and call him. I only followed directive and I am just the 2IC

“Call the person that sent it to give you the number of the Commanding Officer so you can talk with him.”

Efforts to get official response from Army spokesman Col. Sagir Musa was unsuccessful at the time of this report. Our Correspondent earlier contacted Musa for reaction and he requested that a copy of the petition be sent to his WhatsApp with the question which was done.

Thereafter, Musa neither picked calls to his telephone nor replied to chats reminding him his response was being awaited.


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