The Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, has said that military intelligence revealed that some politicians are planning to perpetrate acts of violence including bombings and assassinations to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections.
The army chief stated this on Wednesday in his opening remarks at a strategic meeting with Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding and field commanders at the army headquarters in Abuja, ahead of Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections.
Buratai said during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, some level of violence was recorded leading to “disruption of polls, burning of ballot boxes in some areas as well as loss of lives, including the death of an officer and three soldiers.”
The army chief noted that hobnobbing and fraternisation with politicians during this election period was prohibited, urging “commanders to deal decisively with any electoral crime or action such as thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, illegal possession of electoral materials and firearms as well as other crimes that would mar the smooth conduct of the election.”
“I want to state and categorically warn that the Nigerian Army will not tolerate any acts that will undermine national security. This time around we shall be tough on those who plan to rig or disrupt the electoral process,” Buratai warned.
Buratai, who regretted that an Officer and three soldiers were killed during the last elections, said the Army would not only honour them with a befitting military burial as heroes of democracy, but would track down their killers and ensure that justice was done.
“Overall, I am delighted to note that the first phase of Operation SAFE CONDUCT was a huge success. Despite the bomb explosion in some parts of Maiduguri and attack in Geidam, troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE were able to decisively defeat the attacks and secured the area for a successful conduct of elections.
“We must therefore consolidate on this success and prepare adequately for the second phase of the election by reviewing our plans with a view to correcting observed lapses a peaceful poll that will reflect the wishes of Nigerians that have the right to determine those that govern them.
“Recent security threat assessment and analysis of the coming elections showed that politicians have made plans to use all means available to truncate the peaceful conduct of the elections. There are indications of their intent to take advantage of and to use the farmers/herders crisis, armed political thugs and ethnic militias to perpetrate acts of violence including bombings.
“Some of them also intend to infiltrate domestic staff of political opponents, employ mercenaries to carry out acts of assassinations, use the social media for smear campaigns, hate speeches and spread fake news in a bid to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections. We must not allow them succeed.
“Let me reiterate that the NA will enforce all guidelines in support of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure the peaceful conduct of the elections in line with its constitutional roles. I therefore want to remind us all not to rest on our oars.
“We shall not allow those who are determined to undermine our electoral process to succeed. These forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections are very crucial. This is an election that touches on the interest of the people at the grassroots and could likely be volatile in nature.
“It is important to reiterate that politicians will employ and deploy all means to outwit each other to gain control of power at this level. We may recall that in the recently concluded polls, some politicians in their quest for power, armed thugs and miscreants with automatic weapons; induced and coerced youth corpers and INEC ad-hoc staff to perpetrate acts of electoral malpractices.
“We must therefore continue to support the NPF and other security agencies to prevent these malpractices from occurring again. I therefore urge all commanders to work assiduously and closely with the civil authorities and all law abiding individuals as well as groups to ensure the success of the forthcoming elections.”