The Defence Headquarters on Thursday ordered members of the Nigerian armed forces to desist from wearing their uniforms or other official kits on February 16 when the presidential election will hold.
Defence spokesperson John Agim, said personnel of the Army, Navy and Air Force would exercise their civic rights to vote, but they should not be seen intimidating civilians in the process.
All military persons must “approach their polling units in mufti, devoid of any military accoutrements,” Agim, a brigadier-general, told reporters at a pre-election briefing in Abuja Thursday morning.
“Any military personnel who is not on essential duty that is found on military uniform on election day will be arrested and face the full wrath of military justice system.”
The directive affects all soldiers, ratings, airmen and women.
Agim admonished all military personnel to “remain neutral and exhibit exceptional professionalism before, during and after the upcoming elections.”
“To this end, with the exception of those on essential duties, no military personnel should be found wearing uniform on the elections’ days,” he added.
Agim said electorate in the South-East should not entertain any fears about the ongoing ‘Operation Python Dance III,” saying it was only aimed at keeping peace rather than suppress voters.
The police have the primary duty to provide security on election day, but a limited number of soldiers might be deployed to man some areas of intense security risk, especially in the North-East where Boko Haram remains a threat to civilians.