By Ajogwu Jerry
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has charged commanders and troops of the Nigerian Army to deal “ruthlessly” with any electoral offender during the forthcoming election scheduled for weekend.
Gen Buratai gave the order when addressing a cross section of Principal Staff Officers and Commanders of various division at the Army Headquarters on Wednesday.
The Army Chief commended troops of Operation Safe Conduct for ensuring a peaceful conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections while tasking officers and men of the service to remain apolitical by not hobnobbing with any politician before and after the elections.
He noted the positive ratings of various international observers present during the first phase of the general election.
General Buratai regrettably noted the demise of the gallant soldiers who paid supreme price due to reported cases of attacks by political thugs. He assured their families of prompt payment of their benefits while stating that they the “heroes of our democracy”.
He further charged commanders of various divisions to ensure the safe conduct of the second phase of the elections slated for Saturday by enforcing restrictions on vehicular movements and proper security of the flash points.
“These forthcoming gubernatorial and state assembly elections are very crucial. This is an election that touches on the interest of the people at the grassroots and could likely be volatile in nature.
“It is important to reiterate that politicians will employ and deploy all means to outwit each other to gain control of power at this level. We may recall that in the recently concluded polls, some politicians in their quest for power, armed thugs and miscreants with automatic weapons; induced and coerced youth corpers and INEC ad-hoc staff to perpetrate acts of electoral malpractices.
“We must therefore continue to support the NPF and other security agencies to prevent these malpractices from occurring again,” he tasked.
The COAS revealed plans by desperate politicians to take advantage of the farmers /herders crisis, armed political thugs and ethnic militias to perpetrate acts of violence including bombings during the forthcoming election.
High point of the event was the presentation of commendation award by the Managing Director of African Leadership Magazine, Mr. Kingsley Okeke to Chief of Army Staff. A souvenir from the Chief of General Staff Pakistani Army was also presented to the COAS at the event.