We will not overthrow Buhari - Nigerian military

Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Photo credit: Kola Sulaimon | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Opposition figures like Bukola Saraki and Nobel winner Wole Soyinka have urged Buhari to seek external help or resign.

Nigeria's military has warned local politicians to desist from incitement and pledged it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government has come under criticism over growing insecurity in the country

From a jihadist insurgency in the northeast to herder-farmer clashes in the centre, banditry in the northwest and separatist tensions in the southeast, Buhari's armed forces appear to be struggling to curb insecurity.

However, the country's military, while reacting to agitation by some secessionists and opposition figures to topple the government, has pledged its loyalty to Mr Buhari, a former army general. Such a coup, if it happened, would effectively end civilian rule that was restored in 1999 after prolonged military rule. 

In a statement issued by Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it says, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable.

The army also warned politicians nursing ambitions of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country's democracy.  

“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended...We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens," the statement said in part. 

"We also wish to remind all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality. The full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any personnel found to collude with people having such agenda."

Muhammadu Buhari army buratai

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stands next to ex-chief of Army staff Tukur Yusuf Buratai. 

Photo credit: Audu Marte | AFP

Brigadier General Nwachukwu frowned upon the call by Mr Robert Clarke, a senior advocate in the country, who suggested that the current political leadership should hand over power to the military for purposes of restructuring.  Mr Clarke had said the country was on the brink of collapse and suggested the political leadership hand power to the military so that the security forces could be restructured.

"The situation in this country today is so bad that I, Robert Clarke, I cannot guarantee Nigeria staying another six months. The problems are so overwhelming and they have been created by these same politicians since the 1999 constitution came into being," he said in a TV interview on May 2, 2021.

"Anybody who feels I’m wrong, let him tell me. Nigeria has to be changed; Nigeria has to be changed from what it is today and the only way to change it is to create a state that would make the 1999 constitution ungovernable for its existence."

The airing of the programme by Channel Television stations caused an uproar in Nigeria. 

Opposition figures like Bukola Saraki and Nobel winner and playwright Wole Soyinka have also urged Buhari to seek external help or resign.