Female combatants: Documents expose military’s cover-up

Director, Defence Information, Maj-Gen. John Enenche
Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
Documents obtained by Saturday PUNCH show that the military is not truthful in its denial of its intention to bar women cadets from being admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy as combatant officers.
The 32-page document, which is marked ‘restricted’, shows the ‘Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2012’ and new amendments made to it, one of which is the stopping of the programme for female combatant officers.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Monday that the military was set to end the programme due to pressure from some northern conservatives. The issue is already being investigated by the House of Representatives.
However, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, had said in a rebuttal that, “The contents of all those publications are ill-intended concoctions, not authentic and should, therefore, be disregarded completely.”
He added that the extant  “provision in the terms and conditions of service for female officers of the Nigerian military is that ‘they are eligible for all the types of commission that are grantable to their male counterparts’, which has not changed.”
Saturday PUNCH, which has since obtained documents, can confirm that Recommendation 19 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of the Armed Forces of Nigeria reads: “Phase out the training of female regular combatant cadets.”
The recommendation was recently added to the 2012 Terms and Conditions of Service Officers (revised).
Recommendation 19 reads, “Phase out training of female regular combatants for the AFN (Armed Forces of Nigeria).”
The recommendations were added to the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017 by the Armed Forces Council, which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari last week but had yet to be made public.
Excerpt of the document.
The PUNCH had reported that the military authorities had caved in to pressure from northern conservatives who were of the view that women should never be in a position where they would one day head the military.
A source in the army said, “It seems the military may back down from its plan to stop the Regular Course training for women following the uproar The PUNCH report caused.
“However, the denial that there was no plan to stop the programme is a big lie because documents show otherwise. Since the programme began in 2011, many northern conservatives have been trying to undermine it at every turn.
“One of the reasons why it met little opposition under former President Goodluck Jonathan was that he ensured that almost all the service chiefs, except Air Marshal Mohammed Umar, were southern/northern Christians or Muslims from the more liberal North-Central.”
In 2010, the then President, Jonathan, had ordered the military to allow females interested in becoming combatant officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces to be admitted into the NDA for the first time ever.
The then Minister of Defence, Adetokumbo Kayode, had said other countries in Africa were “already doing it and they are not better than us.”
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