Retired Nigerian military officers block defence ministry, Abuja over unpaid allowances, lambast minister, Magashi


Some retired military officers, on Monday, defied early morning downpour to stage the third phase of their protest at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence, Abuja.

The protesters lamented the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others. The aggrieved protesters, joined by some relatives of the deceased personnel, blocked the access road to the Ministry located at Ship House on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the Federal Capital Territory. The military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), of being insensitive to their plight. Easterner on Monday had reported that the protesters defied the rain and hit the streets with mats and banners.

Easterner had observed a banner which contained a comprehensive list of the protestors’ demands, reading, “Review the wide disparity in pay and pension across the ranks of servicing and retired personnel.”

In January, some retired soldiers under the aegis of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans had also protested against the non-payment of their pension arrears for 24 months. The veterans who gathered at the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Abuja, insisted on getting answers to their demands, or else they would continue protesting and demanding their rights.

They were seen with placards on which various inscriptions were written. One of such placards reads, “CCV demands immediate payment of security debarment allowance.” Another reads,

“Military veterans demand 24 months arrears of minimum wage approved.”

Addressing reporters during the protest, spokesman of the CVV, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, vowed that they would not leave the defence ministry’s entrance until their demands were met.

He said they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight if the situation warranted it.

“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands,” he said. On his part, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, who explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government. He accused the Minister of refusing to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.”

“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi have refused to make disbursements,” Okhidievbie said.

Anna Nanven, whose husband, a Corporal, was killed by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a military barracks in Borno State, 2015, told Easterner that she had only received one allowance disbursement since her husband’s demise. When contacted, the spokesman of the Minister, Mohammed Abdulkadir, directed enquiries to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ibrahim Kana. However, several calls to the mobile phone of Kana were yet to be answered, and he was yet to reply to a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

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