Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has barred officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army from attending church services outside the barracks.
The COAS also warned personnel who he said were ‘sympathetic’ to political, religious and ethnic groups to voluntarily retire from service or have themselves to blame.
Gen. Buratai gave the warning at the opening of the chief of army staff first quarter conference holding in Abuja.
He said henceforth no personnel was permitted to attend church services outside the barracks especially when the Army has made provisions for the spiritual needs of its personnel.
The Nigeria Army recognises the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant (Anglican), and Mosques, all of which have heir prayer houses in all its barracks, formations and units across the country.
The Army chief also warned that for exceptional cases of wedding and any other form of worships which must be granted by him, anyone who disobeys the new order would be severely dealt with.
The Army chief said, “All are reminded on the ban on any form of worship outside the barracks except those permitted by me for wedding and other social functions.
“Therefore officers and soldiers must restrict themselves from any act of political, religious, or ethnic patronisation as these would attract severe consequences. The fate of the 38, officers who were retired is still fresh in our memories,” he said.
It was gathered that the warning might not be unconnected to the 2019 general elections where many religious leaders have been preaching to their flocks on the need to get registered in the ongoing voters registration exercise and other matters concerning the security of Christians in the country.
With the new directive, personnel who worship outside the three major recognised worship centers in the military would now have to adjust as there are no provisions for Pentecostal, white garment or other churches in not just the Nigerian Army but the entire Nigerian armed forces.