The Nigerian Army has said that 95 per cent of its personnel will be deployed for security duties during the February 16 and March 2 elections. This was as the Army denied insinuations in some quarters that the payment of uniform allowance to officers and soldiers, was intended to compromise them in a particular direction. Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, said the explanation became compelling, to set the records straight. “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to some insinuations on various social media platforms that the recent payment of uniform allowance to officers and soldiers was done to sway their voting towards a particular political party. “This is not true. The payment of uniform allowance was started in 2016 to assist troops deployed on Operation Lafiya Dole as uniform upkeep and maintenance.
“The allowance was, however, extended to all Nigerian Army personnel because of their increasing engagement in various internal security operations across the country. “It is important to note that 95 per cent of Nigerian Army troops will be engaged in security duties during the forthcoming general elections. Out of this, almost 40 per cent are in the North- East. Therefore, it is gross unfair and sheer mischief to associate the Nigerian Army with such mundane action. “I need to reiterate that there will be zero-tolerance for any action and inaction by commanders at all levels that is deemed tilted towards giving undue advantage to any candidate, political party, ethnic or religious leanings to the detriment of the unity and integrity of Nigeria. “The Nigerian Army has always been professional, impartial and apolitical.” Meanwhile, the general elections, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has warned that “any civilian caught in military uniform will be treated as a terrorist.”
The DHQ said its warning followed allegations of importation of military equipment and uniforms. This was as it further directed military commanders across the country to ensure that officers and personnel deployed on election duties, adhered strictly to the rule of engagement, as well as code of conduct for the polls. Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. John Agim, handed down the warning at a press briefing on the forthcoming elections scheduled for February 16 and March 2. Agim, however, assured that the military, as part of constitutional mandate in aid of civil authority, would ensure secure environment, for a peaceful, free and fair elections. The press conference was attended by spokesmen from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force. “All military commanders have been tasked to ensure adequate security in their Areas of Responsibility.
They have also been further directed to ensure the adherence to code of conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties. “These assigned tasks include arrest of anyone in military uniform who is not on essential duty on those days.
“Likewise, any civilian caught in military uniform will be treated as a terrorist. “Already, the military is inundated with the allegations of illegal importation of military equipment and uniforms into the country which is being investigated,” Agim said. According to the DDI, “In a few days’ time, the nation will be conducting the Presidential election and elections into other key political offices in the country. It is on this note that the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to re-affirm its neutrality, impartiality and strict adherence to professional code of conduct before, during and after the general elections.