Army bars soldiers from attending church, mosque outside barracks

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has barred officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army from attending church and mosque services outside the barracks.

Buratai also announced the setting up of a special standing court martial in preparation for the upcoming 2019 general election, to investigate and try army personnel found to be partisan and hobnobbing with politicians.

This is coming just as he warned personnel, whom he said were “sympathetic,” to political, religious and ethnic groups, to voluntarily retire from service or have themselves to blame.

Buratai gave the warning at the opening of the Chief of Army Staff’s first quarter conference in Abuja.

Buratai, while maintaining that the unity and integrity of the Nigerian nation was solely on the shoulders of the military and the army in particular, said army personnel who partake in any act inimical to the unity and integrity of the country would be decisively punished.

He charged officers and soldiers to remain apolitical and responsive in the discharge of their constitutional mandate.

The army chief, disapproving of the way personnel were beginning to abandon their military profession and frolicking with politicians, especially as the 2019 elections draw closer, warned that any officer or soldier caught receiving any form of inducement from politicians would be sanctioned.

He said the army would not spare politicians who engaged in corrupting army personnel with one form of gratification or the other.

“Any personnel in any capacity who receives any form of inducement from politicians, public or private entities, knowingly or unknowingly, will be severely punished. Both the giver and taker of such inducement will be investigated and appropriately sanctioned,” he said.

To curb the trend, Buratai said he has directed that a special standing court martial be set up to try erring officers and soldiers.

He, therefore, charged them to remain non-partisan and be guided by the stipulated code of conduct and rules of engagements while carrying out their duties.

“I have directed for a special standing court martial to be set up in preparation for the coming 2019 elections. I must warn that any personnel found hobnobbing with politicians or being partisan will be investigated and sent to the special standing court martial,” he said.

Buratai also warned that no personnel would be allowed to attend church or mosque services outside the barracks, especially when the army has made provisions for the spiritual needs of its personnel.

The Nigerian Army recognises the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant (Anglican), and mosques, which are situated in all its barracks, formations and units across the country.

Buratai warned that with the exception of weddings and any other form of worship, which must be approved by him, anyone who disobeys the new order would be severely punished.

The army chief said, “All are reminded on the ban on any form of worship outside the barracks, except those permitted by me for wedding and other social functions.

“Therefore, officers and soldiers must restrict themselves from any act of political, religious, or ethnic patronage, as these would attract severe consequences.

“The fate of the 38 officers who were retired is still fresh in our memories.”

While he maintained that the unity and terrirorial integrity Nigeria depended on the military, especially the army, Buratai warned that any personnel caught in acts inimical to the unity of the country would be severely dealt with.

“Let me state emphatically here that the unity and integrity of Nigeria lies on the military and the Nigerian Army in particular. Therefore, any act inimical to the unity and integrity of this country by personnel of the the Nigerian Army will be decisively dealt with.

“The Nigerian Army must remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles

“GOCs, and field commanders at all levels are, therefore, warned that anyone that runs foul of his professional ethics will be appropriately dealt with.

“You are all enjoined to continue to remind officers and soldiers under command to remain non-partisan and be guided by stipulated code of conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties, particularly in the coming general elections,” he said.