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Concern as army chiefs 'snub' Defence Minister

18 March 2014, 10:53

Abuja - Army Chiefs have been warned against alleged attempts to belittle the office of the Minister of Defence, General Mohammed Gusau.

Gusau had reportedly threatened to resign following the alleged refusal of services chiefs to honor an invitation for a security meeting he summoned.

The army leaders were reported to have nominated the Chief of Defence Staff to represent them at the meeting.

Irked by the reported act of insubordination, Gusau was reported to have threatened to resign from President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, cautioned the army chiefs.

Condemning the development, Falana said that the recent incident had brought to fore the refusal of the military establishment to subject itself to civil authorities under a democratic dispensation.

“Since the military had ruled the country for close to three decades, serving military officers have a penchant for treating civil authorities with disdain,” he said.

Falana noted that by virtue of provisions of section 218(3) of the Nigerian Constitution, Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs were answerable to the Minister of Defence to whom the President had delegated his executive powers with respect to the defence of the federation.

He said, “No doubt, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs are appointed by the President of the Republic. Pursuant to section 218(3) of the Constitution, the Minister of Defence is equally appointed by the president pursuant to section 147 of the constitution. But the President has, in exercise of his power under sections 5(1) and 148(1) of the constitution, delegated his executive powers of managing the Defence Ministry to the Minister of Defence.

Apart from such powers of superintendence, the Minister is recognized as the head of the Ministry of Defence by the Armed Forces Act (CAP A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Thus in the Armed Forces Council, and the National Defence Council, the Minister of Defence is higher than the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs in the ranking of the members.”

Falana added, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Minister of Defence is the Chairman while the Chief of Defence Staff is the Vice Chairman of the Army Council, Navy Board and Air Council. It is pertinent to note that the permanent secretary who is a civilian is the accounting officer of the Ministry of Defence and member of the governing councils of the armed forces.”

Falana urged President Jonathan to, without further delay, call the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chief to order.

– CAJ News

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