The Nigerian Army has again warned its personnel against involvement in politics.
Also yesterday, the Inspector-General (IG) of Police Mohammed Adamu, warned troublemakers, especially ballot box snatchers to perish the idea of disrupting the rescheduled polls.
The Army described as untrue the allegation that its officers were involved in Rivers State politics.
Sounding the note of warning in a statement in Abuja by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, the army warned its personnel and officers to stay away from political campaigns or escort of Very Important Personalities (VIPs) for political missions.
Col. Musa said it had become imperative to make the army’s position known considering the fact that members of the public might be misled to believe the unsubstantiated allegation of the involvement of a military officer in the Rivers state saga.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to an allegation of involvement of one of its officers in politics in Rivers State which was found to be untrue.
“The Nigerian Army would have ordinarily ignored such baseless insinuations but for the unsuspecting members of the public who may be misled to believe the unsubstantiated allegations of political involvement of a military officer.
“The Army has made it sufficiently and consistently clear that none of its personnel will be involved in political campaigns, escort of VIPs for political missions and above all, aiding or supporting any political party as has been circulated in official circulars and statements.
“Although a detailed press statement has been released, the need to further make the position of the Nigerian Army clearer is therefore imperative.
“Our Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct have not assigned any political role to the Army in this regard. The Army’s involvement starts and ends with the provision of a peaceful and secure environment for the conduct of 2019 General Elections.
“The Nigerian Army strongly believes that the Citizens, like responsible media, have complementary constitutional roles to play, especially towards ensuring national security, information management, peace, and safety of Nigerians.
“The Army will continue to achieve and sustain constructive engagement, obedience to the rule of law and obedience to constituted authority at all time in the spirit of civil-military relations.
“The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has consistently called on soldiers to uphold the tenets of military professionalism and be guided by the rules of engagement and the constitution of Nigeria toward sustaining a responsive army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
“Therefore, any insinuation or assertion against this open declaration is not only mischievous but politically motivated with the intent to tarnish the reputation of the Army which has been built on discipline and obedient to civil authorities under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff.
“Members of the public are therefore urged to always ignore information attributed to the Nigerian Army that are contrary to its core values of professionalism, respect for others and open declaration on the rules of engagement.”
The IG told Nigerians that the Police have been mobilised to deal with anybody planning to snatch ballot boxes or make trouble during the elections.
He gave the warning in a chat with reporters after the security meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting had reviewed security situation in the country, especially towards the general elections.
IG Adamu assured that the police were ready to protect every eligible Nigerian to exercise his or her civic responsibility.
“Anybody that tries to disrupt the elections by engaging in ballot boxes snatching, he said, would have himself or herself to blame,” Adamu said.
He also said that any act of thuggery and touting during the polls would be met with grave resistance.
The IG said: “Today, members of the security community and intelligence community came and briefed Mr. President on the security situation in the country.
“We deliberated on the consequences and came up with the resolve to further provide adequate security within the country so that the electorate will come out and cast their votes without any fear of molestation.
“Every Nigerian is encouraged to come out on the Election Day and cast his or her vote without any fear of molestation. The security personnel are ready and prepared to protect everybody.
“Anybody that feels that he can come out and disrupt process should have a rethink because that situation will not be allowed. If you plan and allow yourself to be used as touts, whatever happens to you, you will take it.
“Ballot snatching, ballot buying, thuggery will never be allowed, anybody that is planning to snatch ballot boxes or planning to be used as a tout, will have his or herself to blame on the Election Day. So, you better don’t allow yourself to be used.”
The directed officers from the rank of Assistant Superintendent (ASP) upward earlier deployed for election duty to return to their bases.
This followed the recall of officers from leave in a signal released by the Force Secretary.
Sources told The Nation that the directive was not unconnected with the need to ensure adequate security before, during and after the general elections.
“Though election was postponed, we were still asked to ensure security at all INEC offices and facilities. We have been at INEC since Friday. Only officers from the rank of ASP and above were directed to return to their bases.
“We have been guiding INEC election materials until on Monday that they eventually moved them all to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“There are fears that some criminally-minded people and thugs sponsored by politicians might want to disrupt election, so, the need to have enough hands ready.
“There have also been pockets of violence like in Kano, Akwa Ibom and remember that Boko Haram also attacked some communities in the morning of the Election Day. All these have been analysed and those at the top arrived at the conclusion that any policeman or woman currently on leave be called back.”
But some Police Mobile Force (PMF) operatives said they were yet to receive their election duty allowance, an issue The Nation gathered.
A sergeant who said he was yet to receive the N35,000 duty allowance, told our reporter that a signal was sent yesterday requesting that the names and account details of all those affected be forwarded to the force headquarters.