Former head of military intelligence, Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, has been relieved of his duties at the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), by Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.
According to a statement by the Defence Ministry yesterday, General Nilam was suspended because a case involving the former head of military intelligence was under investigation.
The statement did not provide further details or specify the nature of the investigation and alleged offence.
The move follows the Brigadier General’s testimony (Dhivehi) to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on January 9, which was made public on Wednesday after MPs on the committee voted to publicise minutes of the closed session.
During the past two weeks, the oversight committee has summoned high-ranking officers of the security services for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.
In his testimony to the committee, Brigadier General Nilam said he was asked by Defence Minister Nazim if he believed that the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.
Nilam said he replied that, “looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup.”
“I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else,” Nilam said.
Asked by pro-government Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan if he believed there was a coup d’etat, Nilam said based on his experience in military intelligence, “this has roots that go much deeper.”
Brigadier General Nilam was seen in leaked video from inside the MNDF headquarters showing a frenzied former President Nasheed ordering officers to go out and confront the mutinying police on the morning of February 7.
Responding to questions by committee members, Nilam explained that the president, defence minister and chief of defence forces were issuing orders because “the [military] lines weren’t working.”
“I was really saddened. This was not something I ever saw inside the military. There has been insubordination. There are former officers here [among MPs on the committee]. There is insubordination. But things have never happened like this in such an operation,” Nilam said at the committee.
Nilam added that he saw a president in a “very helpless” state, which was “a sad moment.”
“We are entrusted with the duty and responsibility of protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty. It is truly disturbing to see something like from [the military],” he said.
The brigadier general said he was present when current Defence Minister Nazim relayed the message for the president’s “unconditional” resignation.
He also noted that military officers banged the president’s car with their boots while he was taken to the President’s Office from the military headquarters and that current Chief of Defence Forces General Ahmed Shiyam took over as acting chief before President Nasheed officially resigned.
“There are lot of questions here. I believe that this should be investigated thoroughly and looked into. These are very serious matters,” he said.
Under Maldivian law, Brigadier General Nilam continued, a “coup d’etat” could not be carried out without the military’s involvement as the offence is specified and prohibited in the Defence Forces Act of 2008.
Asked by the committee’s chair, MP Ali Waheed, if there was a threat to the life of President Nasheed had he not resigned, Nilam said weapons were stored because there was fear of live armour being used and that the mutinying police were armed with riot gear.
Nilam also revealed that the military did not have “any control of [presidential residence] Muleeage after 7:00am or 7:30am in the morning.”
Police and ex-servicemen entered Muleeage after 7:15am on February 7, 2012, he added.
First Lady Laila Ali and the president’s daughters were reportedly taken to a safe location in the morning.
Continuing his testimony, Brigadier General Nilam said he overheard President refuse assistance from two foreign nations before he decided to resign.
“[The President] said this is an internal matter. He answered both calls in much the same way,” he said.
Nilam added that there was possibility of bloodshed “if it dragged on” and that the president’s life was in danger.
Meanwhile, former Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah was also relieved of his duties last week following his testimony to the oversight committee.