Nigeria’s Tinubu removes security chiefs in major reshuffle

Nigeria’s president has named new commanders of the defence forces, army, navy and air force, according to a statement.

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu
Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu waves at a crowd, during his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 29, 2023 [File: Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has made sweeping changes to the defence forces, forcing out the security chiefs and the head of police less than a month after taking office.

Tinubu, who was sworn into office on May 29, has named new commanders of the defence forces, army, navy and air force with immediate effect, the secretary to the government of the federation said in a statement on Monday.

Willie Bassey, a spokesman for the secretary to the Nigerian government, was quoted by national media confirming “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”.

“It is to be noted that the appointed Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller General of Customs are to act in their positions, pending their confirmation in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” according to Bassey’s statement published in Nigeria’s The Guardian newspaper on Monday.

The Nigerian president has made security one of his key priorities and promised reforms to the sector, including the recruitment of more soldiers and police officers while paying and equipping them better.

On his first day in office, Tinubu said: “We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number. We shall provide, better training, equipment, pay, and firepower.”

It is not unusual for a new Nigerian president to send security chiefs into early retirement upon taking office, as Tinubu did on Monday.

Nigeria’s military is stretched, with long-running fighting against rebel groups as well as banditry and kidnappings for ransom that have spread insecurity to most parts of the country.

Major General Christopher Musa, who until last year was leading the army’s fight against the armed uprisings, takes over as the new Chief of Defence Staff from Lucky Irabor.

Tinubu also named new commanders for the army, navy and air force as well as a new head of the Nigeria Customs Service with immediate effect.

Analysts have said the security threats facing Africa’s most populous nation and biggest economy are mainly due to limited resources, which leave Nigerian security forces often outgunned and outnumbered in violent hotspots.

Tinubu has also dissolved the governing boards of all government agencies with new boards expected to be formed and approved by the legislature in the coming weeks.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies