Nigerian president replaces chiefs of defence, army, navy and air force

Goodluck Jonathan appoints four new chiefs of staff, with no reason given for change

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has replaced the country’s chiefs of defence, army, navy and air force, an official statement has said, without giving a reason.

Nigeria is struggling to end a four-and-a-half-year insurgency by Boko Haram, an extremist sect which has killed thousands in its attempt to create an Islamic state in a religiously mixed country of 170 million people.

Jonathan is also facing a political crisis within his ruling People’s Democratic party (PDP) and mass defections to an increasingly powerful opposition.

The PDP is holding a meeting on Thursday to decide the future of its chairman, Bamanga Tukur, a Jonathan ally who has been under pressure to quit from Jonathan’s opponents.

Africa’s biggest oil producer is also blighted by rampant oil theft in the Niger delta, where criminal gangs tapping into pipelines can cut out hundreds of thousands of barrels per day of output and cause devastating environmental damage.

All the four new appointed chiefs of staff are experienced military officials in their mid-50s.

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