President Bola Tinubu stamped his imprimatur as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, yesterday, when he sacked the entire nation’s Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba Alkali, as well as the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.).

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja last night. In the statement signed by Willie Bassey, Director, Information in the SGF Office, the President also upgraded Nuhu Ribadu from Special Adviser, Security Matters to National Security Adviser (NSA).

The sacked Service Chiefs are Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo; Chief of Air Staff, Isiaka Amao; and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali.

“President Tinubu has approved the immediate retirement of all Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Advisers, Comptroller-General of Customs from Service as well as their replacements with immediate effect,” the SGF announced.

Tinubu consequently appointed Maj. Gen. C.G. Musa as Chief of Defence Staff; Maj. Gen. T.A. Lagbaja as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral E.A. Ogalla as Chief of Naval Staff; AVM H.B. Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; DIG Kayode Egbetokun as Acting Inspector-General of Police; Maj. Gen. E.P.A. Undiandeye as Chief of Defence Intelligence and Adeniyi Bashir Adewale as Acting Comptroller General of Customs.

President Tinubu also approved the following appointments: Col. Adebisi Onasanya, Commander, Brigade of Guards; Lt. Col. Moshood Abiodun Yusuf, 7 Guards Battalion, Asokoro, Abuja; Lt. Col. Auwalu Baba Inuwa 177, Guards Battalion, Keffi, Nasarawa State; Lt. Col. Mohammed J. Abdulkarim, 102 Guards Battalion, Suleja, Niger state; and, Lt. Col. Olumide A. Akingbesote, 176 Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, Abuja.

The President further approved the appointments of other military officers in the Presidential Villa as follows: Maj. 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.

Akume added that the president approved the appointments of two additional Special Advisers, and two Senior Assistants. The appointees are Hadiza Bala Usman, as 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 Olarewaju Kunle Ibrahim, Senior Special Assistant, National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives).

Furthermore, after days of speculation, President Tinubu last night also approved the immediate dissolution of the governing boards of all Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies, Institutions, and Government-Owned Enterprises (GOEs) in the exercise of its constitutional powers and in the public interest.

The dissolution does not, however, affect Boards, Commissions and Councils listed in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section 153 (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

A statement from the office of the SGF stated: “In view of this development and until such a time new boards are constituted, the Chief Executive Officers of the Parastatals, Agencies, Institutions, and Government-Owned Companies are directed to refer matters requiring the attention of their boards to the President, through the Permanent Secretaries of their respective supervisory Ministries and Offices.

“Permanent Secretaries are directed, also, to route such correspondences to Mr President through the Office of the SGF. Consequently, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are to ensure compliance to the provision of this directive, which took effect from Friday, June 16, 2023.”

The announcement of new service chiefs and Inspector General of Police has triggered palpable disquiet in their service headquarters, while some experts have lauded the president for his action. The Director General of Department of State Services (DSS) was not touched in the reshuffle.

Profiles of new service chiefs

Kayode Egbetokun was the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Tinubu as governor of Lagos in 1999. Before his announcement as the new acting IGP, he was DIG in charge of Police Investigations.

Lagbaja, the Chief of Army Staff, was General Officer Commanding, GOC of 1 Division, Kaduna. He is a member of the 39 regular course of the Nigerian Defence Academy. He was also a one-time GOC 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu.

Christopher Gwabin Musa, the new Chief of Defence Staff, was born in Sokoto State, on December 25, 1967. He attained primary and secondary education in the conservative Muslim state, although he is originally from Zangon Kataf Local Government Area in the South of Kaduna State.

In 1986, he was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna, where he underwent intense and rigorous military training for five years during which time the Nigerian military held political power in the country.

In September 1991, he was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as a second lieutenant in the Infantry Corps, one of the most difficult sections of the army.

Air Vice Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, was born September 11, 1970. He hails from Shanono Local Government Area in Kano State. He was Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Lagos. He was Admin Officer 16 Engineering Wing, 1 Engineering Group NAF Makurdi.

Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, Chief of Naval Staff, from Enugu Ezike, Enugu State is the Director Lessons Learnt at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja. He was a member of the NDA 39 Regular Course.

According to security expert, Christopher Oji, “the appointments are a welcome development. The service chiefs have overstayed their welcome. They have compromised and are sabotaging the nation’s security architecture. I love what the president did, so that we can chart a new course for our security. My greatest joy is that he has restored sanity in the Customs service as he has appointed a professional and not someone outside the customs.”

President of Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, hailed the president for the mass sack. According to him, “it’s a good news that we have been expecting. Twice since President Tinubu came, we advocated their massive purge. The President has long been expected to get patriotic generals to help him organise and reform the armed forces and police.”

Stakeholders in the maritime industry have expressed happiness in the removal of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, while calling for his probe for the destruction of trade facilitation in the industry and the economy at large.

Reacting to the news of his removal, they said Ali imposed several anti-trade policies that hindered trade facilitation in the country, while driving investors and cargoes to other neighbouring countries, making the country lose billions of dollars.

Former member of the Presidential Committee on Destination Inspection and Ministerial Committee on Fiscal Policy and Import Clearance Procedure, Lucky Amiwero, said Ali’s removal is for the betterment of the maritime industry and the economy, while advising President Tinubu to avoid making such mistake of political appointment in the industry. He urged Tinubu to probe the activities of Ali in his years in the Nigeria Customs Service, noting that a lot of things went wrong.

“Tinubu should probe Ali’s activities in the Nigeria Customs Service because a lot of things went wrong. He destroyed the maritime system. Customs is not a military service, it is a procedural service that has linkage with the World Customs Organisation (WCO). He doesn’t know anything about Customs operations. He came to reform Customs by destroying the entire system. There is need for the reorganisation of customs and probing his activities for the number of years he spent in the service,” he said.

The National Public Relations Officer of Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Taiwo Fatomilola, said his removal is the best thing to happen in Nigeria, especially the economy, importation and the entire maritime industry.

“Removing Ali is the best thing in Nigeria because he has been a curse to the economy and trade facilitation. He doesn’t have a single understanding of how customs operates, he is just a political appointee by the former president Muhammadu Buhari.

“When he was there, he allowed the embattled former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele to determine what happens in the Customs, the target and talking about benefits.

“For Emefiele to say the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) is an advisory note, it shouldn’t be. His removal is the best for Nigeria’s economy, importation and for the entire maritime industry,” he said excitedly.

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Widescope International Nigeria Limited, Dr. Segun Musa, commended the appointment of Wale Adeniyi as the acting DG of Customs, noting that it is going to bring more professionalism in the maritime industry.

Musa said Adeniyi has a good working relationship with stakeholders in the maritime industry and knows the Customs operations because he is an insider.

“The CG removal is overdue and I am one of those that advocated his removal because he wrecked the system.

“We expect much from Adeniyi and we are hopeful there is going to be a lot of improvement. We put our confidence in Adeniyi to do the job rightly,” he said.

Adeniyi, who is an Assistant Comptroller General, received former President Muhammadu Buhari National Honours Award. He served as Customs national spokesman for almost two decades until January 2017 when he was redeployed to the Apapa Area Command.

He was promoted to the rank of Comptroller in 2017 and appointed Deputy Commandant of the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja. He was redeployed in 2019 to serve as the Controller in charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Lagos.

Adeniyi was promoted to the rank of Assistant Comptroller General in February 2020 shortly after he supervised the seizure of $8.07 million cash being illegally taken out of Nigeria through the E-Wing of the international airport tarmac.

He was subsequently posted to head the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja as Commandant.

Similarly, the Head of Department of Politics and International Relations, Lead City University, Prof. Akeem Amodu and a security scholar at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, yesterday, lauded the removal of service chiefs by President Bola Tinubu.

The two scholars stated this in an interview with The Guardian in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Amodu said the step showed that Tinubu meant business and was ready to secure the country.

’Objectively, in the last few days, President Tinubu has indicated seriousness. He has demonstrated that he means business. It is no longer business as usual. Those security chiefs have to go, because you would recall that Asari Dokubo made some allegations against them. All the allegations of Asari Dokubu are weighty. The evidence needs to be protected. They need to leave in order to investigate the allegations very well.

‘’For the elevation of Ribadu as the National Security Adviser, it is a welcome development. It shows that Tinubu truly means business. We expect more in the coming days by appointing ministers’’. On his part, Prof. Aremu said they had to go, adding that their loyalty would be to the last administration. He said: ‘’The sack of former service chiefs is expected. Absolutely, it is a déjà vu given the need for unmitigated loyalty.

‘’In point of fact, the sacked service chiefs expected it to happen. They were only holding forte pending when the President and Commander-in-Chief would announce their compulsory retirements from their various services’’.

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