Armed forces will resist pressure to compromise election –CDS
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Sunday Ani
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has pledged that the military would resist pressure to compromise the 2023 elections.
Irabor who was the 61st guest of the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, yesterday, disclosing that security personnel come under pressure through inducements, noting that necessary measures were being put in place to ensure they obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to maintain neutrality.
He said personnel were being trained to be more professional while rules of engagement before, during and after the elections have been codified and distributed to them.
The rules of engagement before, during, and after the elections have been codified and handed to the personnel, who are also receiving professional training on election duties as well.
“Of course, there will always be pressure from all quarters, wanting to induce security forces, not just the military, the security force and the police. And that’s what criminal enterprise is all about. That is what something wrong is all about. But what makes the difference is the professional approach to dealing with those issues. And that’s what, as the military, we are committed to doing.”
On the training, he said, “Now this is why we have ramped up our training in that regard; sensitisation, a lot of engagement across the formations and units is being undertaken. And then, we have articulated the code of conduct for all our personnel, which has been done and distributed.
“So, how they should act before, during and after the elections, are being codified in the SOP that have been issued to them. So, it remains the duty of the commanders to ensure that the directive, as indicated, and the contents of the SOP is adhered to by every personnel in the armed forces.”
He urged Nigerians to “cease from worrying” and rather trust and engage others to trust that the military will “keep faith to these directives.”
Explaining the military’s role in the forthcoming elections, the CDS noted that it would not spearhead security operations but would only assist the Police.
Meanwhile, a wave of reaction has trailed the CDS’ comment.
The Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign organisation charged politicians responsible to leave the military alone and take their messages to the electorate, who would ultimately determine their preferred leader in the polls.
Spokesperson of the campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a telephone interview, also urged the military high command to ensure the rank and file operate within the confines of their rules of engagement.
“They have the duty of protecting the territorial integrity of our nation and a duty of conformity with the laws. The politicians who are putting pressure on the military should go and engage the people who will vote. They should go and sell their promises, if they will be bought. They should stop mounting pressure on the military, they should face the electorate.”
President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus, commended the CDS for having the courage to tell Nigerians what politicians were planning, even as he urged the military not to allow any politician influence their conduct.
He urged all the security agencies to remain loyal to the Nigerian people and not to any individual.
President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, also admonished the military to be mindful of any kind of compromise because Nigerians were determined to take their destiny in their hands.
For the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, the CDS’ remark is ominous and a danger signal to Nigerians.
He advised the CDS to report such persons to Nigerians so that Nigerians would know where the problem is coming from.