House of Reps screens new Service Chiefs

The Federal House of Representatives on Wednesday conducted the screening of new service chiefs designate of the Armed forces. The service chiefs were screened behind closed doors for security reasons, according to Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson,
Nigerian New Service Chiefs

The Federal House of Representatives on Wednesday conducted the screening of new service chiefs designate of the Armed forces.

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Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson

The service chiefs were screened behind closed doors for security reasons, according to Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, affirmed on Monday, he said the exercise will cover wide range of areas such as Professional skill and experience, Nigeria’s war on terror and insurgency, funding of the military, strategic security knowledge, and welfare of military personnel among others.

Benson, however, noted that the House and the Senate would conduct a parallel exercise. He said while the opening session would be open, the proper screening would be done in secret.

He said, “You know that for security issues, you don’t want to put information out there that the enemy will use against us. We will make some opening remarks but the main ‘question and answer’ session (would be behind closed doors).

“Nigerians should rest assure that we have moved (and adopted) several motions on insecurity and those resolutions are uppermost in our mind. We want safety and security to return to our national life. We are mindful of all that.”

The Senate committees responsible with oversight over Nigerian military are also billed to conduct a closed-door, separate screening exercise this week.

They are Maj. Gen. Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea lrabor – Chief of Defence Staff; Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru – Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo – Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka O. Amao – Chief of Air staff.

They are to replace the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had last Wednesday read a letter from the President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking the confirmation of the new service chiefs.

Buhari’s letter was dated January 27, 2021, while the stamp on the acknowledgement copy indicated that it was received on February 5, 2021.

Gbajabiamila later constituted a panel made up of chairmen, deputy chairmen and some members of the military-related standing committees, to be led by Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Mr Babajimi Benson.

Minister of defense Bashir Magashi in a remark restated that the armed forces is more than ever, ready to confront and checkmate the various security challenges in the country to ensure peaceful coexistence for law abiding citizens.

The four service chiefs nominees, Major General Lucky Irabor, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, Rear Admiral Aiwal Gambo and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao were present for the screening  held behind closed doors.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.