“I have given the order to my men that whosoever is caught with any offensive weapons against the state should be brought down.”
The Nigerian military has ordered soldiers to shoot “whosoever is caught with any offensive weapons” in the buildup to the June 21 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.
This is as the military announced that it arrested three persons with a truck laden with out-dated election materials on Thursday in the state.
The run-up to the election has been characterised by violent clashes with the major political parties pointing accusing fingers at one another. Matters got to a head last Sunday when mobile police officers shot at the governor of the state, Kayode Fayemi, and his supporters during a rally in the state capital, Ado-Ekiti.
“Those who are harbouring hoodlums, we will get them. I have given the order to my men that whosoever is caught with any offensive weapons against the state should be brought down,” the Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure, Ondo State, Aliyu Momoh, told reporters on Thursday.
“That is a strong message to everybody irrespective of political parties. We are neutral and we stand as such.”
Mr. Momoh, a Brigadier General, warned troublemakers to stay away from the state during the election or risk being put down by the military.
While parading the men suspected of moving a truck load of dated election materials, he said they were apprehended around 1.30 p.m. with ballot papers from 2008, 2009 and 2011; Independent National Electoral Commission’s reflective jackets; 2014 Independent National Election Commission rubber stamps and pads.
One of the suspects, Olusegun Ose, said he had brought beverages to the state and on his way back to Lagos when an unnamed INEC official contacted him to help convey bags of beans to Lagos.
“I thought of using the money to buy fuel. When I got to the man, he said he had already got another vehicle to carry the beans but that he had papers to carry from INEC office in Ado-Ekiti. One motor loaded in INEC yesterday but my own was loaded today and I left after I got my waybill.”
“Every material moving must be escorted by security agencies. Anything short of that my men will pick it up. We want to ensure the right things are done”, said Mr. Momoh.
However, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Aliyu Pai, told Punch Newspapers that the materials were waste papers and had been auctioned by INEC.
“It is approved by the National Commission for the company to evacuate the obsolete materials to enable us prepare for the coming election because these are junks that have filled the store,” he said.
“There is an approval by the National Commission. They are known to us and they are in no way connected to this election. They are materials of 2007, 2009 and there is approval for its evacuation”, he added.
The military said the Department of State Security Service has been invited to further investigate the matter.
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