Chief of army staff forms special Buhari loyalist unit in Daura to avert possible military coup

CHIEF of army staff Lt general Tukur Buratai has established a special unit in President Muhammadu Buhari's home town of Daura thought to be part of a fresh plan to avert the possibility of a military coup.

Last week, General Buratai reshuffled the army high command, redeploying several senior officers in what was described as a first step to prevent a military putsch against the government. With President Buhari ill and away in London, it has been rumoured that several soldiers are thought of overthrowing his government and preventing vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo from assuming office.

Although official sources claim that the redeployment of the officers is routine, it is believed that over the last week, General Buratai has gone a step further by forming the new unit called the Muhammadu Buhari Forward Operation Base. Based in Daura, the unit was formed to fortify the president’s hometown and a attract a public pledge of loyalty.

In addition, it is rumoured that the Nigerian Army may have begun an internal search for soldiers and officers suspected to be engaging in political meetings. There are even fears that some arrests may have been made.

On Tuesday, General Buratai warned officers and soldiers to steer clear of politics, as information had reached him that some officers were involved in political meetings for undisclosed reasons. In his speech, the army chief had advised officers and soldiers interested in politicking to resign from the service, as anyone caught would be severely penalised.

Three days after making the pronouncement, General Buratai went to Daura, where he inaugurated the new army unit and paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Daura, Dr Faruk Umar. At the ceremony, he said the establishment of the unit was to enhance security in parts of the First mechanised Division, which Daura town fell under.

Nigerian Army spokesman Brigadier Sani Usman, said: “The establishment of the new unit was part of the implementation of the Nigerian Army approved Order of Battle 2016 by the Army council. Prior to that, the chief of army staff was also at the palace of his Royal Highness, Alhaji Faruk Umar, the Emir of Daura, for a courtesy call.”

It is believed that some of the suspected political meetings were held under the guise of some of the recently redeployed 147 soldiers and officers, trying to familiarise themselves with their new hosts. Brigadier Usman said the army was a professional service and would not hesitate to brief the public if it considered revealing details of any such meetings as necessary.