Nigerian Army spokesman removal – When TheCable puts “a source” over fact

Recommendation for NIPSS has been an excuse for media houses to sell conspiracy theories
Posted on December 05, 2018, 9:26 am

In February, the Nigerian Army appointed J.T.E. Chukwu as its new spokesman. He was to replace Sani Usman, who was nominated to attend Senior Executive Course 40 at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos. About 10 months after, the Army reinstated Usman and recommended Chukwu for the same course which will qualify him for promotion. Editors at TheCable and other media houses, which quickly copied and paste, however, felt the need to report that Chukwu was sacked for a controversial reason based on “a source” even as all other parties, Chukwu inclusive, said otherwise.

TheCable report dubbed an “Exclusive” was dated 29th of November with the headline “Army removes Texas Chukwu as spokesman, re-appoints Usman”. It claims that “a military source told TheCable that Chukwu’s removal followed outcry from different quarters on his “inability” to manage information on the counter-insurgency campaign”

TheCable quoted this anonymous source extensively from its lede paragraph, whereas both Chukwu and the military told them something different. 

“There must be progress. I’m going to NIPSS for study. You know there are some courses you would take before getting promoted to major-general. It’s true. I’m no more the army spokesman. SK Usman would take over. He just returned from course, too,” Chukwu told TheCable.

The military, paramilitary, civil service and other establishments nominate participants to attend the SEC programme. But a nomination to proceed to NIPSS has always been used by the media to sell conspiracy theories ever since former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, was sent to Kuru.

In 2011, after spending two and half years as Commissioner of Police in Lagos state,  Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, was asked to proceed to NIPSS. While Akpoyibo was elated because with Kuru came promotion, The Nation, on its HardBall column disparaged the Police Force for the decision and appears to suggest that there was a conspiracy behind it. The paper called NIPSS “a graveyard for some promising careers and avenue for settling scores”, even though virtually all Inspector General of Police have had to go to NIPSS at some point in their career.

This conspiracy theory may have found evidence in the always available for use phrase “a source”.  

But checks by ETN24 shows that the exact course Usman attended in NIPSS runs for 10 months, matter of fact, February to November is specified as the duration for the Course. Usman left for it in February and returned at the end of November. 

TheCable report ended with a reference to Usman’s first announcement which is that the number of soldiers said to have been killed by Boko Haram are about 30 and not the over 100 as is being circulated. Suggesting, so subtly, that Usman was brought back to tell lies.

Consequently, the Nigerian Army released the following statement,

“The attention of the Directorate of Army Public Relations has been drawn to a news report trending in the online media published by the Cable titled; ARMY REPORTEDLY REMOVES TEXAS CHUKWU AS SPOKESMAN, RE-APPOINTS USMAN.

“In the said story, the report stated inter alia, that Army reportedly removes Texas Chukwu as spokesman, reappoints Usman.

The Nigerian Army has reacted to reports making the rounds of why it replaced its spokesman, Brigadier-General Texas Chukwu with Sani Usman.

Reports had it that Chukwu was replaced over alleged management of information on the counter-insurgency campaign.

However, the force in a statement signed by General Chukwu himself and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday clarified that his replacement was a routine posting.

The Army said that any report to the contrary was, “malicious” and an attempt to tarnish the image of the “senior officer”.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Directorate of Army Public Relations has been drawn to a news report trending in the online media published by the Cable titled; ARMY REPORTEDLY REMOVES TEXAS CHUKWU AS SPOKESMAN, RE-APPOINTS USMAN.

“In the said story, the report stated inter alia, that Army reportedly removes Texas Chukwu as spokesman, reappoints Usman.

“The re-appointment of Brigadier General Sani Usman is a routine deployment in the Nigerian Army following his completion of the Strategic course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies and not based on media management as alleged by the report.

“The Directorate wishes to state categorically that the report is not only malicious but an attempt by the writer to tarnish the reputation of the senior officer which he has built over the years in the course of his career as well as misleading members of the public.

“The write-up further alleged that his removal followed outcry from different quarters on his “inability” to manage information on counter-insurgency campaign, which is completely untrue and unsubstantiated.

“Contrary to the report, the Directorate wishes to state that, the re-appointment of Brigadier General Sani Usman is a routine deployment in the Nigerian Army following his completion of the Strategic course at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies and not based on media management as alleged by the report.

“It is also pertinent to state that Brigadier General Texas Chukwu will be proceeding to the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos for his strategic course.

“Consequently, the Directorate wishes to state that the writer has only succeeded in exhibiting his ignorance or complete lack of knowledge about postings and appointments in the Nigerian Army.

“The directorate, therefore, calls on the authority of The Cable to advice the reporter to cultivate the habit of verifying facts as well as balancing his report before rushing to the press.

“The medium is requested to tender an unreserved apology to the senior officer as well as the Directorate of Army Public Relations through the same medium within 24 hours or be ready to face legal action.”

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