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GEJ: Alarm as soldier cocks gun at wreath-laying event



A member of the elite Guards Brigade caused a minor stir during the wreath laying ceremony for the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations by President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Thursday.

The guard, who was part of the two columns of soldiers drafted to form the firing party for the event, was seen fidgeting with his gun which got stuck in the back of his belt.

In the process, the nozzle of the gun lowered, prompting two members of the Presidential Guard, who were standing behind the President’s Aide-de-Camp, who felt he had a negative intention, to form a human shield around the President.

Another officer, believed to be a member of the Presidential Guard, quickly moved to pull the soldier from the column, but had a rethink after explanations by the soldier about his problem.

The Presidential Guard then assisted the soldier to release the rope attached to the butt of the gun from his uniform.

However, the President, who was in the middle of the two rows of the firing party in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, was not ruffled by the incident .

After the stir which occurred on the third and last round of the shooting of the 21-gun salute later, Jonathan freed the traditional white pigeons from a huge cage at the cenotaph.

He later signed the 2015 Register for celebrations.

It was learnt that the bullets usually used for the traditional military ceremony are blank bullets which lack the capacity to inflict injuries.

Our correspondent also gathered that the officers in charge of the ceremony normally embarked on a holistic weeding process and psychological screening of those to take part in that aspect of the ceremony.

The event which held at the cenotaph opposite the Eagle Square at the Central Area, was attended by the top echelons of the security forces and government officials.

Among those who also laid wreaths were Vice-President Namadi Sambo; the President of the Senate, David Mark; and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, who represented the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.

Others were the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed; the Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Gusau; the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu; the Doyen of the Diplomatic community and the Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Micah Gayya.

Security personnel conducted painstaking searches on workers whose offices are located in the three-arms zone before allowing them in.

The security operatives locked down the two major roads in the Three-Arms Zone – Ahmadu Bello and Shehu Shagari ways – to prevent vehicles from passing through the cenotaph while the event lasted.

A planned protest by the Ex-Service men Welfare Association did not take place as the event held smoothly without any interruption or disruption.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Committee set up to review the National Defence Policy has concluded arrangements to hold public presentations in three states.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mohammed Umaru, said during a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, that the event scheduled for Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu, would hold simultaneously from January 21 to 22 .

Umaru said that the decision to open public hearing on NDP was informed by a need to have many Nigerians contribute to the policy.

Jonathan had inaugurated the committee on November 20, 2014 to review the policy because of the social, economic and security changes that have taken place in the country.

He said that external developments and challenges in the global arena had direct impact on the nation’s security and national defence.

Punch, January 16, 2015

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