From Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
Retired military personnel have called off their nationwide planned protest over their exclusion in the Security Debarment Allowance (SDA).
The protest was suspended following the intervention of Defence Minister, Maj.-Gen. Salihi Magashi (retd.), who met with the leadership of veterans to resolve the contentious allowance.
The SDA was approved in 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari for military retirees to prevent them from using the skills they acquired while in service to perpetrate crime after retirement.
It is payable to only personnel that retired from 2017.
The veterans had threatened to embark on a nationwide protest to register their anger for being excluded from the retirement package.
Also at the meeting were: the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Defence Account and Budget, Maj.-Gen. Jahadi Ezra Jakko; Chairman of Military Pensions Board, Maj.-Gen. A. B. Adamu and the Director of Veteran Affairs at the Defence Headquarters.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the Defence Minister, Mohammad Abdulkadir, said the veterans were protesting what they called unjustifiable exclusion from the payment of the SDA “aimed at preventing retired personnel from using the knowledge and skills acquired while in the Service against the state”.
The statement explained that “this was contrary to the allegations in some quarters in the media that the minister is too busy to attend to the grievances of the veteran groups until 2021”.
It added: “The meeting, which was held against the background of maintaining an ‘open-door policy’ in the management of the military veteran affairs, was attended by all concerned parties.
“The interface had on the side of the minister’s team, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Defence, Sabi’u Zakari; Director Joint Services Department, Mrs. Olu Mustapha; Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO), Brig.-Gen. Auwal Fage and Special Adviser (Technical) to the Defence Minister, Maj.-Gen. Ahmed Tijani Jibrin (retd).”