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Nigerian Army redeploys GOCs, other top officers

On 15 February, the Nigerian Army redeployed 29 Major Generals including General Officers Commanding (GOCs) divisions, along with 42 brigadier generals.

A statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Directorate of Army Public Relations, Colonel Usman Abdul said the GOC 1 Division, Kaduna, Major General Joseph Shoboiki, moves to Defence Headquarters as Director of Policy while former Director of Training at the Army Headquarters, Major General Garba Ayodele Wahab now takes over as GOC 1 Division.

Major General J. O. Nwaogbo, until recently commander of the military Joint Task Force in Borno State, is now GOC 3 Division, Jos while Major General Sunday O. Idoko moved from the 82 Division, Enugu as GOC to become Chief of Logistics (COLOG) Army Headquarters. Major General O.O. Oshinowo, Head of the Special Task Force (STF), Jos, is now GOC 82 Division.

The Commander, Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery (NACA), Major General Emmanuel Etim Bassey, has been appointed Chief of Administration at Army Headquarters while Major General M.B. Ibrahim, formerly of Defence Headquarters now commands the Special Task Force (STF) Jos.

Major General A.T. Jibrin and Major General U. Buzugbe have been confirmed as Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) and Military Secretary (Army) respectively.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Major General Raphael Ishaku Isa, is now the Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army while Major General J.S. Zaruwa is the new Commander of the Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre (NAPKC) in Jaji. Major General A.S. Agha-Okoro of the Department of Army Training and Operations (DATOPS) at the Army Headquarters is now the Director, Legal Services (DLS).

Others appointments include Commander 3 Brigade, Brigadier General I. I. Abbah; Commander 31 Brigade, Brigadier General Ilouga; and Commander 21 Brigade, Brigadier General R.O. Bamigboye.

Brigadier General C. O. Okoro, of 81 Division is now Sector Commander/Nigerian Contingent Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), while Brigadier General M. A. Koleoso becomes Sector Commander/Nigerian Contingent Commander for the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

PROFILE: Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor

Lt Gen CHIKADIBIA ISAAC OBIAKOR...at the apex of a distinguished career

Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, who hails from Awka in Anambra State, was born on 18 February 1951.

He started his career with the Nigerian Army in 1973. Attending the Nigerian Defence Academy and several other military training institutions in Nigeria and abroad, he graduated from the prestigious National Defence College (then National War College) in Abuja, Nigeria. He susbsequently earned a Master of Science degree in strategic studies from the University of Ibadan also in Nigeria.

From 1996 to 1997, he served as the Commander of the Artillery Brigade of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia. In 1997, he was the ECOMOG Chief Coordinator of the Liberian elections.

He was later appointed General Officer Commanding, Second Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army in Ibadan. He subsequently held the position of Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, in charge of the welfare, discipline and medical services for all Nigerian army personnel. In December 2005, he was promoted Lt General.

On 5 December 2005, General Obiakor was named by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Reviewing his two-and-a-half-year tenure as UNMIL’s top military official, he once told the UN News Service that one of the biggest challenges he had to deal with was securing Liberia’s borders with its neighbours, which was particularly important since, as he noted, “all the problems of Liberia had always started from somewhere outside”.

Taking on that challenge, he negotiated joint border patrols between Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea. Just before he left the mission, he also facilitated border patrols between Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, led by the UN peacekeeping force in the former (UNOCI), and then between Guinea and Sierra Leone. It was also during his tenure at UNMIL that an all-female Indian police contingent arrived in Liberia – it was the first time such a unit was deployed in a UN peacekeeping mission, and its success has since encouraged the deployment of similar units elsewhere.

On 28 May 2008, Obiakor was appointed, by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as Military Adviser for all United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide. The UN notes that at the time he assumed office, “peacekeeping numbers and responsibilities” were “at an all time high”. It said General Obiakor was “tasked with providing advice on all military issues in the context of UN peacekeeping, which now deploys more than 110,000 men and women in conflict zones worldwide”.

In that capacity, Obiakor further wrote himself into history as the first ever military adviser to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to also hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

He served in that position until 2 September 2010 when he was succeeded by Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye of Senegal. The UN Secretary General noted that his exit was: “the culmination of two particularly busy years which saw the establishment of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as the emergency operations linked to the Haiti earthquake”. 

At his retirement from the Nigerian Army on 24 June 2011, Obiakor had become the longest serving General in the Nigerian military in recent memory (He was a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s Course 10, while the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika came eight years later as a member of Course 18).

He went into retirement sharing with the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, the distinction of being the highest officer of the Nigerian military to have served under the United Nations system.

Gen Obiakor has been happily married to Mrs Meg Nnenna Obiakor for 35 years and the marriage is blessed with children.

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