The Federal Government has debunked plans to substitute two of its service chiefs, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.
In a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said although the CDS is due for retirement next week, “he has yet to be replaced.”
“It is necessary to respond to a fictive story published in today’s (yesterday) edition of a national newspaper to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the replacement of Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, as service chiefs.
“The newspaper, rather than rush to print an unsubstantiated story, would have done better to confirm the information at its disposal, from many available military and government information channels.
“It then would have avoided the self-inflicted wound of publishing a one-legged story that is not completely true, and damaging its brand in the process,” Adesina said.
“Gen. Olonisakin is due to retire from the Army next week, having satisfied the official number of years in service. He has yet to be replaced.
“But the Chief of Naval Staff has a short while more, and President Buhari could, therefore, not have approved his replacement yet,’’ the statement added.
According to Adesina, President Buhari-led administration has repeatedly pledged commitment to transparency and accountability, and one of the hallmarks of that is making information available to the media.
He, however, frowned at some sections of the media who would rather speculate, than cross-check and double check information, saying, “it borders on deliberate mischief.
“That, surely, is not the way to go, for national cohesion and development.’’
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has denied that he directed two service chiefs in question to relinquish their offices and proceed on retirement on or before December 16.
A statement released by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, on Monday in Abuja said his attention was drawn to some online publications purporting that he directed the two service chiefs to hand over on that date.
The statement said: “Please be informed that there was no such communication between the office of the Honourable Minister of Defence and the service chiefs directing any one of them to hand over his office and proceed on retirement.
“The appointment and replacement of service chiefs is a prerogative responsibility of the office of the President and Commander in Chief.”