The controversy over 386 soldiers who applied to disengage from the military amid the battle against bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in parts of the country may be over after the authorities fixed their exit date as January 3, 2021.
But they will proceed on terminal leave on December 3, 2020. The affected soldiers reportedly include those who have attained retirement age and others who are medically challenged as a result of the injuries they sustained in the battle against bandits and terrorists in parts of the country.
The personnel’s application for voluntary retirement and disengagement from service on medical grounds had stoked controversy after it was alleged in some quarters that it may not be unconnected with poor welfare conditions and adequate military hardware to tackle the myriad of security threats facing the nation.
But the authorities punctured the claim, saying it was the right of the personnel to apply for voluntary discharge on medical grounds and other approved guidelines in accordance with military terms and conditions of service.
According to a letter, dated August 12, 2020, and titled ‘Approval for Voluntary and Medical Discharge Soldiers for First and Second Quarters 2020’, the Army, said the 386 discharged soldiers were of 1979 Nigerian Army intakes and others.
The letter, addressed to the Nigerian Army Special Forces Command, Nasarawa, and copied to various military formations where the soldiers are currently serving, referenced the Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service of the Armed Forces (2017 Revised).
Among others, the letter said, “In compliance with Reference A, the COAS has approved the voluntary/medical discharge of one Master Warrant Officer and 385 others.
“The soldiers are to proceed on terminal leave from December 3, 2020 while their disengagement takes effect from January 3, 2021 in accordance with the Nigerian Army Administrative Policy and Procedure number 27, Paragraph 3 and 4”.
Consequently, it directed all army formations and units to release the 386 affected soldiers to the Army Headquaters Garrison, Abuja, for documentation not later than October 1, 2020.
The formations and units are also to ensure that all forms of military controlled items, including arms, ammunition, uniforms and items of combat kits, are recovered from the soldiers prior to their disengagement date and certify that they are properly de-kitted.
Furthermore, they should complete all necessary documents in regards to withdrawals of NAWIS (Nigerian Army Welfare Insurance Scheme), BENFUND (Benevolent Fund Contributions), and National Mortgage Contributions.
The letter was copied to the Defence Headquarters, the National Defence College, the Nigeria Defence Academy, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, the Military Pensions Board and the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command among others.
The letter, earlier requesting the voluntary retirement of the Master Warrant Officer and 385 other soldiers based on medical grounds and other pecuniary reason as contained in the TACOS, and submitted to the office of the Chief of Army Staff through the office of the Chief of Administration, was dated July 2, 2020.