The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has warned those planning to disrupt the upcoming election to desist as the army will not tolerate such actions.
The official said the Nigerian Army would not hesitate to deal with such people “appropriately.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday stirred the hornet nest when he said he had given the military and police instructions to be ruthless with anybody who snatches the ballot box.
”Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election. Maybe that would be the last unlawful action you would take. I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless to anybody.
The army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, had told PREMIUM TIMES immediately that the army will obey ‘totally and effectively’ such order ”if it is given by Mr Buhari”.
“If Commander-in-Chief has given order to the Nigerian Army to that effect, be rest assured that order will be totally and effectively obeyed without any ifs or buts.”
More sabre rattling
Mr Buratai at a meeting with Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding and Brigade Commanders on Wednesday at the Nigerian Army Headquarters Abuja. described anyone that intends to engage in electoral violence as ”enemies of democracy”.
He also said the Nigerian Army has zero tolerance for such activities.
“The Nigerian Army has since resolved to rise up, challenge and foil the attempt by anyone or group with violence proclivity to disrupt Saturday’s elections. We shall be on the alert, to see that their devilish, callous and retrogressive plots do not come to pass,” Mr Buratai said.
The official noted that with the launch of “Operation Safe Conduct”, “Python Dance III” and other military operations, ”many parts of the country have enjoyed relative peace and calmness prior to the election”.
He said the army would remain apolitical and neutral ”before, during, and after the polls”.
“I wish to reiterate the commitment of the men and officers of the Nigerian Army to discharge their responsibilities professionally, and responsively, in line with best global standards of military engagement.”
Mr Buratai expressed dismay over the attitude of desperate politicians, ”whose unguarded statements and utterances are already inciting the public against the Army”.
He also said the army would not approve escorts for politicians on election day
”The army would not provide military escorts for politicians on election day and the military would adopt a proactive measure to quickly nip in the bud electoral crimes inimical to national security.”
The army chief warned his personnel to avoid fraternising with former army officers ”who are now aspiring for various political offices”.
He advised the army GOCs to quickly report any security breaches.