Although there have been no concrete statements, the word ‘coup’ has been floating in the Nigerian media over the past weeks since President Muhammadu Buhari traveled outside the country due to medical issues again. Where though are the rumors emanating from? What has been done about it? Below are some facts every Nigerian needs to know:
1. Army restructuring
On May 10, 2017, there was a massive restructuring of major commanding posts and units around the country in the Nigerian army According to a statement released by the director of army public relations, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, the new posting was “in a bid to re-strategise the Nigerian Army”. Many felt this was done to quell rumors of the coup being heard around the country.
2. Buratai’s warning
On Tuesday, May 16, the Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai in a statement issued through the army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general said:
“This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, 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”.
3. UK government reacts
The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright at an event in Abuja on Wednesday, May 17, reacted to the coup rumors, saying: “The British government believes that democracy is actually critical in Nigeria. “There are elections. If you’re not happy with your leaders then you should change your leadership through the democratic process and through elections.”
4. Air Force professes loyalty
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, affirmed the loyalty of the Air Force to the Nigerian constitution on May 19, 2017. Speaking during the commissioning of two blocks of flats at Bill Clinton Drive, Nigerian Air Force Base, Abuja he made the stance of the Air Force clear Mr Abubakar stressed that the Nigerian Air Force is dedicated to the welfare of its officers and the protection of the country’s territorial boundaries. He called on officials to remain dedicated to their duties.
5. Army steps up security
In a meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on May 21, Buratai, said that all threats had been neutralised and democracy would not be truncated. It was reported that a covert intelligence operation aimed at forestalling Nigeria’s descent into dictatorship had been set in motion across the country.
“Covert intrusion involves sending secret operatives into military gathering, units, formations and other establishments to get information and early warning of any threat to national security,” sources said according to Premium Times.
6. Chekwas Okorie calls for full disclosure
Meanwhile, former presidential candidate of the UPP, Chekwas Okorie, has said the chief of army staff Buratai must make a public warning against any coup in the country. “I am disturbed by the Chief of Army Staff ’s warning because I listened to Voice of America (VOA) and its report was more elaborate than what was reported by the local media,” he warned.