Regional bodies, the Peoples Democratic Part (PDP), civil rights groups and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria among others, on Wednesday, urged military officers and other individuals toying with the idea of a coup in Nigeria to perish the thought.
A statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, on Tuesday, stated, “This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts.”
Although Buratai did not elaborate on the political reasons, there had been fears by some Nigerians that such hobnobbing is a bad omen and may lead to a military intervention.
Curiously also, the COAS warning came a week after a major shakeup in the top echelons of the Army.
Among those that condemned the alleged plot of a military intervention are the United Kingdom Government; the umbrella body for the North, the Arewa Consultative Forum; the Igbo socio-political organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and a prominent lawyer, Alhaji Yusuf Ali (SAN).
In separate interviews on Wednesday, they declared that coups were no longer fashionable.
In its reaction to Buratai’s warning, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, said the United Kingdom would continue to support democracy as the only system of government in Nigeria.
Arkwright further stated that anyone, who was seeking for change, must follow the democratic process which is election.
The British High Commissioner said this in Abuja on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists after the presentation of a Chatham House Report, titled, ‘Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria: A Social Norms Approach to Connecting Society and Institutions’.
Arkwrtight said, “The British Government believes that democracy is absolutely critical in Nigeria. There is a democratic process here; there are elections. If you are not happy with your leaders, then you should change your leadership process through your leaders and through elections.
“That is exactly what happened in 2015 and it is what the British Government will expect to happen in Nigeria. So, our position is very clear; we stand for democracy, we stand for the democratic process and we stand for change, if that is what the people of Nigeria want.
“It has to be a choice that the people make and not a choice that is imposed upon them.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo aligned with the position of the PDP factional group, asking Buratai to expose those that had approached soldiers for political reasons.
The group, however, warned against attempt, by anybody or group, to take advantage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s sickness “to take power through the back door.”
The Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the nation deserved to know the individuals concerned.
“He (Buratai) should name those people, so that Nigerians will know who they are, and their motives.
“People should not take advantage of Mr. President’s health condition to take power through the back door.
“Whoever they are, they should know that any attempt to scuttle democracy in this country will be resisted by Nigerians. Military rule is no longer welcome in this country.
“But Buratai should start by naming these people; Nigerians need to know who they are so as to stop them.”
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, however, urged Buratai to expose politicians who were approaching soldiers for political reasons.
The National Publicity Secretary of the committee, Dayo Adeyeye, said this in a telephone interview in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Adeyeye stated, “He should come out more openly and tell Nigerians what is actually happening. What exactly is the nature of the contact politicians are making with the soldiers? We would like to know the nature of the contact and who and who are making the contact.
“It is only reasonable that he exposes those involved. What are those politicians making these contacts asking for? The truth is that as a nation, we cannot go back to Egypt, because democracy is our Promised Land.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has stated that he would rally round to ensure no coup against civilian governments in Africa succeeds.
He, therefore, called on the Ivorian army which has mutinied against the government to support President Alassane Ouattara in his efforts to develop Cote d’Ivoire.
Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had in his reaction on Wednesday, condemned the development in strong terms.
In a statement he signed and issued to newsmen in Abeokuta, the Ogun capital, Obasanjo noted that the mutiny over alleged delay in payment of their salaries was unfortunate.
Obasanjo observed that various governments within the West African sub region were making efforts to maintain peace and security in their countries to enhance development and progress.
He said that any act capable of jeopardising peace and security in the sub region should be resisted.
“To this end therefore, nothing must be done to reverse the progress so far made by the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire under President Alassane Ouattara,’’ Obasanjo said.
The former Nigerian president urged the military in Cote d’Ivoire to act within the code of good conduct and military discipline.
“While as a former comrade of those soldiers, I wish that they have their required bonuses and enhanced wages, but as military men, they must act. – Punch, Daily Post.