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Did New Army Chief Just Talk Himself Into Trouble?

Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Faruk Yahaya

June 16, (THEWILL)- The Nigerian Army has clarified that the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Faruk Yahaya, has not spent 36 years in service as widely reported in the media.

During his confirmation screening at the National Assembly, the COAS mentioned that he was bringing his 36 years of military experience to bear.

It would mean that he did not qualify to hold the post as a military officer in Nigeria is statutorily expected to retire at age 60 or after putting in 35 years of service, going by the Federal Civil Service Rule.

However, an explanation has come from the Nigerian Army high command to say that the COAS’s service record actually began to count from September 22, 1990, upon his being commissioned as an officer.

In a statement by the outgoing Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, the COAS, during his confirmation screening at the National Assembly, mentioned that he was bringing his 36 years of military experience to bear.

According to the statement by Yerima, Yahaya told the legislators that what he brought along “in this highly tasking office is about 36 years of military experience, having joined the Army on 27 September 1985 as a member of 37 Regular Course (Degree).”

Yerima noted that the COAS graduated on September 22, 1990, which is the effective date of joining the military.

He said that for the records, the COAS had accurately captured his military experience to include the five years he spent in training as Officer Cadet in the Nigerian Defence Academy.

Yerima said: “The record of service of an officer however counts from the day he is commissioned.

“This is clearly stated in the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service (Officers) 2017 Revised.

“In the case of the 22nd COAS as he stated clearly, he was commissioned on 22nd September 1990 which is reference point for his service years.

“This, therefore, means the message being circulated is completely inaccurate and out of context.”

Yerima, however, urged the public to disregard claims that tended to portray that the COAS had spent 36 years in service.

According to him, the claims emanated from lack of knowledge of the military service or out of mischief best explained by their authors.