The Nigerian Army said on Wednesday it had constituted a high powered committee to probe all cases of alleged misconduct by troops during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The committee is also expected to probe any act of misconduct by personnel that may be involved in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections slated for Saturday, March 9.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, made this known at a meeting with Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding (GOCs), and Commanders at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Buratai explained that the committee was constituted to ensure that “all cases’’ were thoroughly looked into so as to“dispense justice.’’
He also said that the purpose was to uphold the Nigeria army’s “credibility, professionalism and apolitical stand’’.
Buratai said: “There have been reports of alleged compromises by some personnel during the elections.
“We have received complaints from some stakeholders, major political parties, Governors of Bayelsa, Oyo and Ogun States of allegation of misconduct as well as unprofessional conduct by some of our personnel.
“Unfortunately, some other states have gone to the press with unsubstantiated allegation without resort to the army leadership.
“Nonetheless, all these complaints are noted and will be addressed appropriately.’’
On soldiers killed during the Feb. 23 elections, Buratai vowed that those responsible would be fished out and made to face justice.
An officer and two other soldiers were killed by gunmen at Abonema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers, during the presidential and national assembly elections.
He said: “Let no one be in doubt that those desperate politicians and criminals that attacked our troops in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties will be tracked down and brought to justice.
“In line with the tradition of the army, they will be given heroic burial as they are indeed the heroes of our democracy.
“I have directed that their full entitlements be paid.
“As we mourn the death of the young officer and soldiers killed in the course of their lawful duty during the recently held election, I want to assure their families that their death will not be in vain.’’
The army chief appealed to youths to shun any attempt by any politician to use them to perpetrate any form of violence.
He warned that this time around (March 9), the army “shall be tough on those who plan to rig or disrupt the electoral process.’’
“I want to state and categorically warn that the army will not tolerate any acts that will undermine national security.’’
Buratai, therefore, charged the commanders to ensure robust and extensive patrols on Saturday, enforce the no movement restrictions and dealt decisively with any act of electoral violence.
He said that recent security threat analysis of the March 9 elections showed that politicians had made plans to use all means available to truncate the peaceful conduct of the elections.
According to him, 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.’’
He said that the army would enforce all guidelines in support of the Police to ensure the peaceful conduct of the elections
Buratai further charged the commanders not to rest on their oars and allowed those who were determined to undermine the 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.
“Some of them induced and coerced youth corps members and INEC ad-hoc staff to perpetrate acts of electoral malpractices. We must be alert and ensure that only the right thing is done.”