The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai on Monday, urged troops to clamp down on activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra and its splinter groups to prevent disruption of the forthcoming election.
Buratai, who gave the directive in Abuja, when he declared open the 2019 first quarter Chief of Army Conference, accused the banned group of planning to disrupt the election.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that unlike in the past the conference is tagged “the Chief of Army Staff Operations Conference’’.
According to him, activities of IPOB are gaining momentum ahead of the election.
He said: “Their excesses must, therefore, be curtailed immediately.’’
The Federal Government, in September 2017 through an Executive Order of President Muhammadu Buhari, outlawed the Indigenous People of Biafra and its activities in every part of the country.
The Federal High Court in Abuja, thereafter, gave judicial backing to the Executive Order.
The Acting Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, granted the order proscribing the group.
The court declared that activities of the group constituted acts of terrorism and illegality.
The army chief also noted that the political clashes in Taraba and a few other states, called for enhanced liaison between commanders, the police and other security agencies.
He said the collaboration was necessary “in order to de-escalate tension as quickly as possible’’.
Buratai restated that there were intelligence reports on “subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the election in some parts of the country’’.
He warned such detractors to immediately mend their ways.
He said: “The Nigerian Army is working closely with the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to ensure an enabling environment for good citizens of our dear country to exercise their civic rights.
“In this regard, GOCs and field Commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.’’
On involvement of officers and soldiers in the conduct of the election, Buratai said he had in the past one year given clear directives on the posture they should adopt during the exercise.
According to him, the need for the Nigerian Army to remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles has been stressed.
He said: “All personnel must remain neutral, non-partisan and transparent in all their actions.
“I need to reiterate that there will be zero-tolerance for any action and in-action by commanders at all levels that is deemed tilted towards giving undue advantage to any candidate, political party, ethnic or religious leanings to the detriment of the unity and integrity of Nigeria.
“This include knowingly or unknowingly receiving any form of inducement from politicians or other entities, be it public or private.
“GOCs and Field Commanders at all levels are to warn all officers and soldiers under their command to remain forthright and not in any way deviate from the professional ethics of the Nigerian Army.’’
Still on the election, the army chief said he had issued operational directives for Operation Safe conduct for the general election.
Buratai said: “The Nigerian Army has also produced a Code of Conduct Handbook for personnel to guide them during the election and copies have been distributed to all formations.’’
He reminded them of events in the 2015 general election which subsequently led to the “sad exit of some fine officers, who were found culpable’’.
He added: “I therefore enjoin you all to impress on your personnel to avoid a repeat of such occurrences,’’ he said, noting that the army’s role in support of the nations’ democracy “cannot be over-emphasised.’’