With Saturday’s governorship and state Assembly election just hours away, the Nigerian Army has discovered plans by some politicians to truncate the election by perpetrating acts like bombings, assassinations and using the social media for smear campaigns, hate speeches and spreading fake news.
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, revealed this at a meeting with principal staff officers, General Officers Commanding Operational Commanders and Directors held at Army Headquarters Conference Room, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Buratai added that those politicians planned to disrupt a peaceful conduct of the election by infiltrating domestic staff of political opponents, employing mercenaries to carry out assassinations and taking advantage of the farmers/herders crisis, armed political thugs and ethnic militias to perpetrate violent acts that included bombings.
Noting that the Army was not unaware of the varied plans by politicians to outwit one other, Buratai said the Army alongside the Police and other security agencies was poised to foil all threats to the peaceful coexistence of the country.
He however appealed to Nigerian youths to shun any offer by any politician to use them to perpetrate any form of violence or rig the electoral process.
“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,” Buratai said.
While noting that the Army was set to hand over those arrested for various electoral offences in the February 23 election, Buratai warned that the Army will be tough on all those who plan to disrupt the electoral process or engage in acts that undermine national security.
Speaking further, he charged Army commanders to ward off infiltrations at polling units aimed at scaring away voters, while urging them to adequately carry out robust patrols to cover all flash points.
He further tasked commanders to decisively deal with all involved in electoral thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, illegal possession of electoral materials and firearms among other crimes that could mar a smooth conduct of the election.
“Commanders must deal decisively with any electoral crime or action such as electoral 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 said.
Buratai, specifically, pointed to complaints from governors of Bayelsa, Oyo and Ogun states among other stakeholders of unprofessional conduct by some of its personnel in the presidential and national assembly elections, assuring that a committee had been convened to investigate all allegations leveled against its troops.
Buratai consequently warned army commanders against any form of hobnobbing and fraternization with politicians or highly place individuals, urging officers to remain neutral and respect only orders from the Army command.
He emphasized the imperativeness of the army working in conjunction with the police and other security agencies to dominate the environment to forestall any form of violence in all localities of the country.
While commiserating with officers killed in the course of their duty during the last election, Buratai assured that it will track down all politicians and criminals that attacked its troops.