Tuesday, July 31, 2007


A military spokesman said there was nothing abnormal. Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has ordered the retirement of 40 of the army's most senior generals. They include the commanders of the five divisions of the Nigerian army.
Nigeria has been ruled by the military for 30 of the 47 years since independence but the army denied the move was linked to fears of a coup.
Mr Yar'Adua was sworn in in May - the first time one elected leader had handed power to another but the elections were widely condemned.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered a similar purge of the army shortly after his inauguration in 1999.
Mr Obasanjo, himself a beneficiary of a 1975 coup, said he wanted to rid Nigerian military of its penchant for plotting coups.
But the military says Mr Yar'Adua's motives for approving the retirement of 40 top generals are different this time.
"We are now following due process and trying to go back to the best military traditions," Nigerian defence spokesman Col MD Yusuf told the BBC News website.
"There is nothing abnormal about that number of officers being retired. If they joined the army at the same time, isn't it normal that they'd attain retirement age at the same time too?"
Mr Obasanjo became Nigeria's first democratically elected president after 16 years of military rule in 1999.



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