By Danladi Alhassan
The Defence Headquarters on Friday explained that the role of the Armed Forces in the ongoing elections is to support the police in providing security for voters to exercise their franchise.
Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), said the military’s role in election is contained in Section 271 of the 1999 constitution.
The section stipulates that the military can be deployed to “assist the police in maintenance of law and order during elections.’’
“In carrying out this onerous task, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is guided by the code of conduct and rules of engagement that have been provided for military personnel deployed to maintain security during elections.
“We assure Nigerians that in tandem with our mandate, we will continue to compliment and support the efforts of the Nigerian Police in ensuring that all abiding citizens of this nation and members of the international community go about their legitimate duties and obligations in an environment devoid of violence and insecurity.’’
Nwachukwu restated the Chief of Defence Staff’s (CDS), Abayomi Olonisakin directive that personnel had the right to vote during the ongoing elections, but must approach polling units in mufti.
“Additionally, any military personnel who is not on election security duty found in military uniform on election day will be arrested and sanctioned in accordance with military justice system,’’ the CDS had said.
Nwachukwu reminded commanders to ensure that sanity prevailed in their areas of responsibility.
He said their assigned tasks apart from ensuring security include the arrest of personnel in uniform but not on election duty, adding that civilians caught in uniform would be treated as impostor.
The DDI assured that the military would not carry out reprisal attacks to avenge the death of some soldiers killed by suspected political thugs in some states during the February 23 elections.
“In spite of the unfortunate attacks on our personnel by political hoodlums during the last elections, the armed forces of Nigeria, as a professional and reputable institution wishes to reassure the public that no reprisal attack will be carried out by military personnel, unit or formation,” he said.
He commiserated with the families of the deceased soldiers, saying that no one, including military, civilians, electoral officers or observers deserved to die for elections.
Nwachukwu appealed to politicians and their supporters to embrace peace and conduct themselves within the ambit of the law.
“The Defence Headquarters solicits the support and cooperation of Nigerians and the media toward the sustenance of peace and security before, during and after the elections,’’ he said.