, ABUJA, Jul 13 – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday sacked his military top brass, his spokesman said, in a widely expected move as he tries to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
“The President has relieved the service chiefs, including the heads of the army, air force and navy of their appointments,” Femi Adesina told AFP, adding that replacements would be announced soon.
It was not immediately clear if the Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh and National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuku were also affected by the purge.
But Badeh, Army head Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, Adesola Amosu of the air force and the navy’s top officer Usman Jibrin were appointed by former president Goodluck Jonathan in January last year.
The military command has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the six-year Boko Haram insurgency that has killed at least 15,000 and forced 1.5 million others to flee their homes.
On the commanders’ watch, the militants captured swathes of territory, including towns and villages in the remote northeast in its quest to establish a hardline Islamic state.
In addition, the sacked military chiefs were unable to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in the northeastern town of Chibok in April 14 last year, despite repeated promises.
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since Buhari became president on May 29, with a wave of raids, explosions and suicide bombings against civilians.
Some 570 people have been killed in Nigeria alone, according to AFP reporting.
The spike in violence has sparked concern that gains made by the armies of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon against the rebels since February this year are being eroded.