Jonathan Removes Service Chiefs

Source: REUTERS. -

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan replaced the top brass of the security forces on Wednesday, appointing new military and police chiefs months ahead of elections.

Jonathan promoted the former head of the air force to chief of defence staff and named new air force, army and navy chiefs to replace officers who were due to retire at the end of August.

Presidency spokesman Ima Niboro said the appointments were subject to parliamentary approval but would take immediate effect.

The president also removed the inspector general of police and the head of the State Security Service (SSS). No reason was given.

"Mr President thanked them for their dedication to the service of the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours," Niboro said.

Jonathan has not yet said whether he will stand in the polls due in January but recent announcements by his administration, including a major blueprint to end chronic power shortages, mean most Nigerians expect he will.

A bid by Jonathan, who is from the southern Niger Delta, could be divisive due to an agreement in the ruling party that power rotates between the Muslim north and Christian south every two terms, meaning the next president should be a northerner.

The People's Democratic Party has said Jonathan has the right to run, because he was previously vice president on a joint ticket with northern President Umaru Yar'Adua, who died mid-way through his first term earlier this year.

But the party also said that it would uphold the principle of "zoning" and that other candidates were free to contest at its primaries.