Yar’Adua appoints new service chiefs
- Dike replaces Azazi as Defence boss
- Army: Maj-Gen. Dambazau
- Navy: Vice Admiral Iko Ibrahim
- Air Force: Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin
From Martins Oloja, Abuja Bureau Chief
AIR Vice Marshal Paul Dike emerged as the new Chief of Defence Staff yesterday as President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua continued the restructuring of government machinery.
Dike, hitherto the Chief of Air Staff, replaces Gen. Andrew Owoeye Azazi who should have retired last year.
New service chiefs also emerged yesterday as confirmed by Presidential spokesman Segun Adeniyi to State House correspondents.
In the new dispensation approved by the President who went to Saudi Arabia yesterday for the lesser Hajj, Maj. Gen. A. Dambazau from Kano State is the new Chief of Army Staff. He was until yesterday the General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, of the Army in Ibadan. He replaced the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Luka Yusuf, who was also to have retired earlier.
The new Chief of Air Staff is Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin. He was Air Officer Commanding Nigeria Air Force Training Command, Kaduna. Vice Admiral Isaiah Iko Ibrahim is the new Chief of Naval Staff, replacing. Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, who should have retired too since last year.
The Service Chiefs Retreat earlier scheduled for Kaduna today has been postponed as a result of the changes in the military command structure.
It was confirmed last night that Yar’Adua and the Defence Minister, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, met yesterday with the former service chiefs before the announcement of the changes.
It was not clear last night whether the President will present the names of the new service chiefs to the National Assembly for confirmation as required by the Armed Forces Act.
Specifically, Section 18 of the Army Forces Act CAP A20 Laws of the Federation, 2004 provides that (1): Appointments of Service Chiefs, etc. – The President, may after consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff and subject to confirmation by the National Assembly, appoint such officers (in this Act referred to as ” the Service Chiefs”) as he thinks fit, in whom the command of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as the case may be, and their Reserves shall be vested.
(2) The Service Chiefs shall be known-
(a) in the case of the Nigerian Army, as the Chief of Army Staff
(b) in the case of the Nigerian Navy, as the Chief of Navy Staff; and
(c) in the case of the Air Force, as the Chief of Air Staff.
Controversy began on this turf recently following a disclosure in military circles and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that all the Service Chiefs appointed throughout the eight-year tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo including the ones approved by Yar’Adua and all the actions taken by them via various Councils were illegal, null and void.
Reason: Through a suit filed by a retired General, it was revealed that the law required that in a constitutional democracy, all Service Chiefs must be confirmed by the National Assembly before or after taking office! But the Defence Headquarters, through its lawyer, said the Constitution did not say so.
But this legal requirement has never been met since the May 29, 1999 democratic restoration.
This fact, now believed to be unknown to even the National Assembly, came to the fore via a Court record obtained and reported by The Guardian recently.
The matter, now under litigation, is actually contained in a suit filed by Major-General Ovo Adekegha against military authorities that purported to have retired him via an Army Council meeting reportedly held on February 11, 2008.
In the Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/76/08 filed at the Federal High Court on March 18, 2008, against the Nigerian Army Council, the Honourable Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, the Permanent Secretary, (MoD), the plaintiff had sought for determination three questions:
- Whether the Defendants’ conclusion at the meeting of 11 February, 2008, concerning the commission of the plaintiff which resulted in the decision contained in the letter of 11 February, 2008 and the letter dated 14 March, 2008 was not inconsistent with the plaintiff’s Right to Fair Hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and the Armed Forces Act CAP A20 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
- Whether the composition of the Army Council, which met on 11 February, 2008 deliberated and resolved that the plaintiff resign his commission on disciplinary grounds was not in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the 1999 and the Army Forces Act CAP A20 , Laws of the Federation 2004.
- Whether the Army Council under Section 9 of the Armed Forces Act CAP No A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 has the power to remove compulsorily, retire and terminate the Commission of the plaintiff or any officer of the Nigerian Army.
The plaintiff had, therefore, sought some nine reliefs and declarations including a “A Declaration that the Nigerian Army Council as presently constituted is unconstitutional, illegal and cannot remove, retire or terminate the commission of the plaintiff under the Armed Forces Act CAP A20 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
Besides, the plaintiff (Adhekegba) sought a “Declaration that the findings and decisions of the Nigerian Army Council at its meeting of 11 February to the effect that the plaintiff’s conduct over the time has been pre-judicial to military discipline, therefore, should resign his commission or be compulsorily retired, is in violation of Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 is void and without any legal effect.”
The plaintiff also sought a “Declaration that full compliance with Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act with respect to the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (4th Defendant) is mandatory.”
Chiefs of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs since May 29, 1999 are as follows:
Chiefs of Defence Staff:
- Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi (Kogi State)
- General Alexander Ogomudia (Delta)
- General Martin Luther Agwai (Kaduna)
- General Andrew Owoye Azazi (Bayelsa)
Chiefs of Army Staff:
- Lt Gen Victor Malu (Benue)
- Gen Alexander Ogomudia (Delta)
- Gen Martin Luther Agwai (Kaduna)
- Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi (Bayelsa)
- Lt Gen Luka Yusuf (Kaduna)
Chiefs of the Naval Staff:
- Vice Admiral Victor Ombu (Bayelsa)
- Vice Admiral Samuel Afolanyan (Kwara)
- Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye (Kwara)
Chiefs of the Air Staff:
- Air Marshal Isaac Alfa
- Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep (Plateau)
- Air Marshal Paul Dike (Delta)
All the Chiefs of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs before now were from the minority tribes. While Ogohi and Alfa are Igala, Ombu and Azazi are Ijaw.
Malu is Tiv, Ogomudia is Isoko, Afolayan and Adekeye are from the Offa area of Kwara. Wuyep is from Plateau, Dike is from Delta North while Agwai and Yusuf are from the Kachia, southern Kaduna area.
Petinrin was born on January 19, 1955 at Ipeju Ijesa in Ori-Ade Local Council Area of Osun State. He did his primary and secondary schools in Osun State before he started his military career.
Petinrin enlisted into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) on July 3, 1974 as member of Regular Course 16 and was commissioned Pilot Officer on January 3, 1977.
Air Vice Marshal Petinrin has attended several courses since he joined the military. From 1977 to 1978 he attended the Undergraduate Pilot Training in Laughlin Air Force Base and Fighter Pilot Lead-in-Training at Maxwell Air Force Base both in the United States of America where he qualified as a fighter pilot. In 1982 he attended a Flight Safety Course in Pakistan.
Petinrin also did his Junior Division Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji in 1980 and between 1982 and 1983, he attended the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, United States for his Senior Command Staff Course.
Petinrin is also a member of Course 10 of the prestigious National Defence College, Abuja, Nigeria. Some of the aircraft flown by Petinrin include. Bulldog, L29, Alfa Jet and Mig21.
Petinrin has held several command, staff and training appointments in the Nigerian Armed Forces. Between 1983 and 1985 he was the Officer Commanding B Squadron at the Air Defence Group, Maiduguri and thereafter became the Operations Officer in the same Unit. From 1986 to 1988, Petinrin was a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji Kaduna. In 1988, he was appointed Military Assistant to the then Chief of the Air Staff and subsequently he was moved to Headquarters Training Command as Staff Officer 1 Operations in 1989.
Thereafter, Petinrin was posted to 99 Air Weapons School Kainji in 1991 as Group Operations Officer and later appointed Commander of the School from 1993 to 1994. He was also once the Director of Evaluation at Headquarters, Nigerian Air Force and later posted to National Defence College from 1988 to 2000 as a Directing Staff. During the period, Petinrin was also made the Director of National Military Strategy of the National Defence College. In 2005, Air Vice Marshal Petinrin was posted to Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Makurdi as Senior Air Staff Officer and thereafter, in 2007 he was moved to Defence Headquarters as the Director of Electronic Warfare. Subsequently, he was redeployed as the Chief of Defence Communications at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Petinrin has received several awards and medals. He was first in order of merit on his graduation from NDA in 1974. He won the best Officer Cadet Award at his graduation from Primary Flying Training Wing Kaduna and was also Best Overall Foreign Student Pilot on his graduation from Undergraduate Pilot Training Course at Laughlin Air Force Base, United States of America.
Petinrin also bagged the Chief of Defence Staff Award as well as the Chief of the Air Staff Award on his graduation at the National Defence College. He also topped his Masters of Strategic Studies Class on graduation from the University of Ibadan. His other decorations include Forces Services Star, Meritorious Services Star and Defence Services star.
Petinrin is married and has four children. His hobbies include reading, jogging and playing squash.