Jonathan/Buhari: interest and the abuse of commander-in-chief of the armed forces as a strategic threat to democracy.

 “For us, democracy is the best, and the only way to secure development, to secure security and to make sure that there is a stable society,”Ketil Karlsen Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria

(http://sunnewsonline.com/ekiti-guber-eu-wants-to-see-continued-consolidation-of-democracy-in-nigeria-karlsen/amp/)

The constitutional provision that gives the president the power of “discretionary use” of the Armed Forces within the law, for the provision of internal security, is his exclusive designation of Commander-in-chief.  The individual’s interpretation of “discretionary use”, within the law, when subjected to his interest especially, such that can provide an undue advantage, to the president and the vested interest he seeks to protect, results in the abuse of that exclusive right called  Commander-in-chief, he enjoys. In Ekiti, both Jonathan and Buhari, have abused it, with one firm conclusion…..

The understanding and interpretation of the law is subject to interest.

 

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES

One great threat to democracy is the abuse of the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, as a weapon against the opposition….the face of democracy. When abused by the president, democracy stands compromised. Obasanjo, Jonathan and Buhari have all used it to the peril of democracy.

That position was created on January 4-5 1967, by the Aburi conference, that tried but failed to prevent the civil war.

Mr Eric Teniola’s publication in the Vanguard of May 3, 2016 titled: “The memo Akenzua did on Aburi” provided the following details:

“The following was agreed upon—that Army to be governed by the Supreme Military Council under a Chairman to be known as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Federal Military Government, Establishment of a Military Headquarters”https://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/05/memo-akenzua-aburi/

Akenzua, Teniola made reference to, was the immediate past Oba of Benin, formally referred to as;  Samuel Aiseokhuoba Igbinoghodua Akenzua, OmoN’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa. He was at the time of the Aburi conference, a respected senior civil servant and one of the few civilians that attended the conference, that was chaired by Lt-General J.A.Ankrah, The Ghanaian Head of State and Chairman of the Ghanaian National Liberation Council.

SUPREME COMMANDER

Prior to Aburi, what existed in Nigeria, was the Supreme Commander, the position under which Major General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, governed Nigeria as Head of the Federal Military Government. Gowon inherited it from him. It was the combination of his position of General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army (Ironsi’s designation at the time of the coup) and Head of State, as the substantive head of the country.

He did not actually give up the position of GOC, NA. Instead he combined it with his new position and appointed Gowon Chief of Staff (Army) – COS (A). Hence Ironsi continued to use the license plate “NA 1.” http://www.umuahiaibeku.com/Gen.Aguiyi.ironsi.html

NA stands for Nigerian Army. NA 1, was the official car number plate, exclusively reserved for the car, used by the General Officer Commanding the  Nigerian Army; Ironsi, a position he inherited in 1965 from Major-General Sir Christopher Earle Welby-Everard.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES FROM GERMANY:

Just the way Hitler combined his elective office of Chancellor with that of president, a position he inherited from General Hindenburg. “Paul Von Hindenburg (1847-1934) was a German World War I military commander and president………president of the Weimar Republic in 1925, and died shortly after naming Adolf Hitler the German chancellor.”https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/paul-von-hindenburg

With the death of the 87 old General, Hitler combined both the office of President and Chancellor, to emerge as History’s only Führer (leader). His successor, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz was not addressed as Führer, but “President of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces”. The use of the designation, Supreme Commander, by both the United States and Britain on one hand and by Karl Doenitz as the official title Hitler gave him,  must have influenced Ironsi’s choice of the designation.

  1. Keith Thompson, writing on Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, in his entry for the Institute for Historical Review’s , journal, had this input.

“For a few brief weeks during late April and May of 1945, another leader of Europe came to power, an honorable man, respected even within the military councils of the Allies. That man was Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, commander-in-chief of the German Navy, in overall command of German military forces in the north……….To his overwhelming astonishment, Dönitz had been designated by Hitler as his successor and head of state. In his last political testament executed at 4:00 a.m. on 29 April 1945, and witnessed by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, and Generals Wilhelm Burgdorf and Hans Krebs, Adolf Hitler appointed Grand Admiral Dönitz as “President of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces…..Karl Dönitz was never a political man”http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v04/v04p305_Thompson.html

Dönitz held power for 21 days. He got effective power on May 2, 1945 (after Hitler’s death). On May 7, 1945, he ordered the surrender to the allies, and he was finally arrested by the British on May 23, 1945. He was not a Führer. Unlike Gowon who inherited the position of Supreme Commander, from Ironsi, Dönitz didn’t inherit the title of Führer, from Hitler.

Grand admiral is the equivalent of fleet admiral, or admiral of the fleet and all three are the naval equivalent of field marshal in the British Army and five star General in the United States.

THE END OF THE POSITION SUPREME COMMANDER:

When Ironsi was Supreme Commander: Head of the Federal Military Government+General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army, he named Lt.Colonel Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Staff (Army), but he remained the GOC…..the substantive commander of the Army, to whom Gowon reported.

In July 1966, then Lt Col. Yakubu Gowon assumed the position of “Supreme Commander” in the very tense circumstances of a violent counter-coup in which Ironsi was killed. Gowon remained “Supreme Commander” until he gave up the title after the Aburi meetings of January 1967. However, he re-assumed the powers of “Supreme Commander” when he declared a state of emergency in May 1967 and revoked Decree #8. His successor as Chief of Staff (Army), Lt. Col. JRI Akahan later died in a helicopter crash as the civil war broke out in July 1967“http://umuahiaibeku.com/Death-of-Genironsi.html.

Following the assassination of Ironsi, Gowon became the Supreme Commander. The position Supreme Commander was retired, split and replaced at Aburi. From ruins of Supreme Commander, emerged office of the Head-of-State (as the head of the nation) and the Commander-in-Chief, the substantive head of the Armed Forces.The office of the Chief of Army Staff, also emerged, replacing General Officer Commanding, as the designation of the ranking officer of the Army. Lt. Colonel Joseph Akahan, who replaced Gowon as Chief of Staff (Army) after Gowon replaced Ironsi as the Supreme Commander, was the first Chief of Army Staff. Much latter, the office of the Chief of Defense Staff was created,  Lt-General Julius Alani Ipoola Akinrinade became the first CDS in 1980 under Shagari.

ABUSE OF COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES THE STRATEGIC THREAT TO DEMOCRACY

 

FEMI FALANA: THE POSITION OF THE LAW ON THE PRESIDENT’S FUNCTION AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES

Wale Odunsi’s story titled: “Deployment of soldiers for elections is unconstitutional – Falana”, published in the The Daily Post about four years ago, provides a legal insight to the use of soldiers during elections this way:

“Falana, in a statement he released on Sunday titled: ‘Illegal involvement of soldiers in election duties,’ said sections 215 and 217 of the constitution are abundantly clear that the power of the President to deploy armed forces for internal security is limited to the suppression of insurrection, including insurgency and aiding the police to restore order when it has broken down.”https://www.google.com.ng/amp/dailypost.ng/2014/07/21/deployment-soldiers-elections-unconstitutional-falana/amp/

BUHARI’S DEPLOYMENT OF THE ARMED FORCE TO EKITI,  IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

Rotimi Ojomoyela, wrote under the headline “Ekiti election: Snatch ballot box, lose your hand; run with it, lose your legs —Police”, for the Vanguard the following:

“Adequate security has been assured as no fewer than 4, 390 combined forces of soldiers and other paramilitary personnel will be deployed to complement the 30,000 policemen who have been drafted to Ekiti to monitor the election.”https://www.google.com.ng/amp/s/www.vanguardngr.com/2018/07/ekiti-snatch-ballot-box-lose-your-hand-run-with-it-lose-your-legs-police-fear-anxiety-intrigues-as-ekiti-elects-governor-today/amp/

About three years ago, Levinus Nwabughiogu, wrote under the headline: “APC writes Jonathan, Jega on using military for elections” for the Vanguard as follows:

“The letter, dated February 16, 2015 emanated from the Director, Legal Services of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN). Though it was addressed to Jega, copies of the letter were also made available to President Jonathan, the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the National Chairmen of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party. APC in the letter called the attention of the federal government to a judgment delivered on January 29, 2015 by Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Sokoto and another by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on February 16, 2015 which overruled the use of military in elections.“https://www.google.com.ng/amp/s/www.vanguardngr.com/2015/02/apc-writes-jonathan-jega-on-using-military-for-elections/amp/

ANALYSIS:

  • The same APC that went to court by the evidence provided by “the Director, Legal Services of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN)” as reported by Levinus Nwabughiogu, deployed soldiers against the law, by the documented evidence of Rotimi Ojomoyela.
  • The understanding and interpretation of the law is subject to interest.
  • When that happens, the opposition is often times the victim.
  • When the opposition is the victim, democracy is the real victim, for the opposition in our political system, is the face and the identity of the state of our democracy…….and not the position; the government of the day!

 

JONATHAN’S DEPLOYMENT OF THE ARMED FORCE TO EKITI,  IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

Charles Kumolu’s article four years ago, published in the Vanguard titled: “Ekiti: Jonathan has case to answer – Soyinka”, provides the following details:

“NOBEL laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, wants President Goodluck Jonathan to tell Nigerians who authorised the military to prevent some governors of the All Progressives Congress,APC, from attending the final governorship election campaign in Ekiti State, describing the action of the army as unconstitutional.” https://www.google.com.ng/amp/s/www.vanguardngr.com/2014/06/ekiti-jonathan-case-answer-soyinka/amp/

Lois Ugbede’s story titled: “Ekiti: Atiku, Jonathan react to Fayose’s ordeal”, published on July 12, 2018, by the online medium, Premium Times, contained the following details:

former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, called for caution over the activities of security agencies deployed to Ekiti ahead of Saturday’s scheduled governorship election.”https://www.premiumtimesng.com

ANALYSIS:

  • The same President Jonathan that deployed the Army in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief, against the law, by the documented evidence of Wole Soyinka, as reported by Charles Kumolu, spoke out against the very action he took four years ealier, when he by the evidence of Lois Ugbede, called for caution with respect to Fayose.
  • The understanding and interpretation of the law is subject to interest.
  • When that happens, the opposition is often times the victim.
  • When the opposition is the victim, democracy is the real victim, for the opposition in our political system, is the face and the identity of the state of our democracy…….and not the position; the government of the day!

From the “discretionary use”, better understood as abuse or “abnormal use” of the constitutional provision of Commander-in-Chief, by both Jonathan and Buhari in Ekiti, to protect their  conflicting vested interests, misusing the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has one clear thing:

The understanding and interpretation of the law is subject to interest.

 

….and that interest that is often a statement of hostility towards the opposition; the clear victim. When the opposition is the victim, democracy is the real victim. The opposition only took the bashing from the Commander-in-Chief on behalf of democracy, for in our democratic experience, the opposition and not the position is the face of democracy.

Continued.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not of Political Stew.

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