President Bola Tinubu on Monday carried out a major shake-up of the nation’s security architecture with the immediate retirement of all the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
Also affected are special advisers and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service.
According to a statement by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, a former Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, Major General Christopher Musa, has replaced General Lucky Irabor as the Chief of Defence Staff.
Similarly, Major General Taoreed Lagbaja is now the Chief of Army Staff. He replaced Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya.
Air Vice Marshal H.B Abubakar was appointed as the Chief of Air Staff in place of Air Marshal Oludayo Amao and Rear Admiral E. A Ogalla will take over from Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff.
Buhari appointed Irabor, Amao, Gambo and the late Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru on January 26, 2021. Attahiru, who died in a plane crash, was replaced by Yahaya who was appointed on May 27, 2021.
Also, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun has been appointed as the acting IG while Major General EPA Undiandeye is the acting Chief of Defence Intelligence.
Ribadu now NSA
Nuhu Ribadu, who was appointed last week as the Security Adviser to the President, has been elevated as the National Security Adviser.
He replaced Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.) who was appointed in July 2015 by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President also approved Col. Adebisi Onasanya as the Brigade of Guards Commander; Lt. Col. Moshood Abiodun Yusuf, Commander, 7 Guards Battalion, Asokoro, Abuja and Lt. Col. Auwalu Baba Inuwa, Commander, 177, Guards Battalion, Keffi, Nasarawa State.
Others are Lt. Col. Mohammed J. Abdulkarim as Commander, 102 Guards Battalion, Suleja, Niger State and Lt. Col. Olumide A. Akingbesote as Commander, 176 Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
Similarly, the President approved the appointments of other Military Officers in the Presidential Villa.
They include Major Isa Farouk Audu (N/14695) Commanding Officer State House Artillery; Capt. Kazeem Olalekan Sunmonu (N/16183) Second-in-Command, State House Artillery; Maj. Kamaru Koyejo Hamzat (N/14656) Commanding Officer, State House Military Intelligence; Maj. TS Adeola (N/12860) Commanding Officer, State House Armament, and Lt. A. Aminu (N/18578) Second-in- Command, State House Armament.
Acting Customs CG
Also, Adeniyi Adewale was appointed as the acting Comptroller General of Customs.
He was appointed in place of the former CG, Hamid Ali.
The statement read, ‘’The President has also approved the appointments of two additional special advisers and two senior assistants, namely: Hadiza Bala Usman Special Adviser, Policy Coordination; Hannatu Musa Musawa Special Adviser, Culture and Entertainment Economy; Senator Abdullahi Abubakar Gumel Senior Special Assistant, National Assembly Matters (Senate) and Hon. (Barr) Olarewaju Kunle Ibrahim Senior Special Assistant, National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives).
“It is to be noted that the approved service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller-General of Customs are to act in their positions, pending their confirmation in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’
Meanwhile, a spike in banditry, kidnapping, oil theft and violent crimes were recorded under the former service chiefs.
Also, no fewer than 15,031 persons, including security operatives were killed between January 2021 when the retired service chiefs were appointed and June, 2023.
According to the SBM Intelligence report, 10,366 persons were killed in 2021 while 4,545 others were murdered in 2022. About 4,611 victims were kidnapped in the same year.
Data sourced from the National Security Tracker of the Council on Foreign Relations said those killed in 2022 include 3,972 civilians, 202 military personnel, 186 police officers, 154 vigilantes, 14 security guards and 17 others were reportedly killed in the period under review.
Further analysis revealed that an average of 12 persons were killed and 13 individuals were kidnapped daily in violent attacks reported in the media from January to December 2022.
Also, Amnesty International reported that more than 120 Nigerians have been killed by bandits and other criminals since Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29.
However, security experts have commended the President on the appointment of the new service chiefs and the IG, noting that the security chiefs are capable of leading the security agencies to rid the country of insurgency and high-level criminality.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on Monday night, an internal security expert, Mr Chidi Omeje noted that the President had put round pegs into round holes.
“The appointment of the new service chiefs and the IG, among others, by the President is a step in the right direction. All those appointed are some of the best hands in their fields, and they have exceptional records in tackling insecurity over the years. I believe that they would deliver by stabilizing the country, and help rid the country of insurgency and high-level criminality,” Omeje said.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu said he was optimistic that the newly-appointed security chiefs would help the nation in surmounting its security challenges.
“Although the issue of insecurity is enormous, but I believe that the new security chiefs will be able to turn the table around against insurgency and sundry crimes,” Ojukwu said.
A security analyst, Olalekan Ojo, commended the retirement of the service chiefs and immediate appointment of their replacements, adding that their retirement was long overdue.
He stated, “We even expected Tinubu to sack them the same day he took over from Buhari because those people do not have anything to offer again. Immediately after the election, can you count the number of people killed and kidnapped in Zamfara, in Sokoto, in Kaduna, in Kebbi, in Benue?
“Bola Tinubu has tried to have allowed those people to serve up until this (Monday) evening. So, I think I appreciate Mr. President for what he has done this evening”.
‘Appointment not unexpected’
A former Department of State director, Mike Ejiofor, said it was not unexpected for the President to change the service chiefs, noting that he may have programmes he believes their replacements would better execute.
“It’s a new administration, it’s a new government, and it is not unexpected that he would have a change of the security chiefs and get his own men. It is normal. He has his programmes that he believes these people will help him achieve, so let’s just see how it goes,’’ he observed.
Clearing agents operating at the nation’s maritime domain has lauded the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the removal of the Controller General if Customs, Col Hammed Ali (read).
In a telephone conversation with our correspondent in Lagos on Monday, these agents described the move as one of the best decision taken by the president so far.
Reacting to this, the Founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Luvky Amiwero, called for investigation of Ali’s tenure.
“This is one of the best decisions the President has taken so far. Ali is not a trained Customs Officer, he is a Colonel in the military not a Controller General, a Controller General is a trained officer that is what they call a proper officer. That man is not trained, he cannot discuss Customs. So this is one of the best decisions and also moving it to the South. The Customs system has been shifted to one area, the people in the area most of them have been marginalized. The service should be reorganised and this man’s tenure should be investigated. How can you bring a Colonel which is an assistant Controller in Customs.”