Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) has stated that the Army already uncover a massive plot by some politicians in the country to set up explosives and disrupt he peaceful conduct of Saturday’s gubernatorial polls across the country.
Buratai also said that the plots by the politicians include using herdsmen and thugs to disrupt the elections. Buratai who made the statement on Wednesday during a meeting with Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOC), Operational Commanders and Directors of the military at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, also said that the plots include “ infiltrating domestic staff of political opponents, employ mercenaries to carry out acts of assassinations, use the social media for smear campaigns…
” 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 to succeed. We shall not allow those who are determined to undermine our electoral process to succeed.”
Meanwhile head of the March 9 Governorship and State Assembly elections, women groups on Wednesday kicked against the continued deployment of military personnel for election duties.The women who marched to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Abuja, on the auspices of Save Democracy Women, also called on the electoral umpire to demonstrate high level of non partisanship in Saturday’s elections. Led by May Uneku, convener, Impact Future Nigeria, the women carried placards bearing various inscriptions to press home their demands.
Some of the placards read: “Nepotism must stop,” “Restore our stolen mandate,” “No place for tyranny in modern democracy’,” “Save our democracy,” “Black cloud over Nigeria,” “Let our votes count,” among others. The protest follows on the heels of a similar one engineered by the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Tuesday, accusing INEC of violating electoral laws during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. While noting that the police remains the lead agency for election security, Uneku attributed the low voters turnout in some parts of the country in the February 23 election to high presence of military personnel.
She said: “Unfortunately, these military men helped President Muhammadu Buhari to rig the presidential election for him to come back. “We condemn in totality the involvement of military in our elections. During the just concluded elections, people were killed. The election was a total charade because there are videos and pictorial evidence of people screening for their lives, soldiers were harassing and shooting people. “In 2015, there were court judgements in Abuja, Sokoto and Lagos – two federal high court judgements and one Court of Appeal judgement – against the involvement of the military that the President had no powers to involve the military in the elections. “But a few days to the 2019 elections, the President categorically said the military should shoot anybody that will pick ballot boxes. Though we are not supporting those who will snatch ballot boxes but that pronouncement caused a lot of rancour as military men harassed, intimidated voters”.
The women also presented a petition to the commission wherein they alleged that the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly election was characterised by violence, arson, harassment, intimidation and vandalism. They mentioned incidences of military personnel deployment and intimidation by political thugs in various states that allegedly led to loss of lives in Rivers, Lagos, Kogi, Delta, Bayelsa among others. The document read in part: “The recently concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, on February 23, 2019, witnessed a proliferation in state sponsored violent attacks on citizens and the systematic intimidation of opposition.
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