Electoral Violence: Military Dismisses Fear Of Reprisals Over Killing Of Personnel

The DHQ promised to remain professional in the discharge of its duties and asked Nigerians to go out and vote in the elections.

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The Defence Headquarters has given the assurance that there would be no reprisal by any military unit or formation, following the killing of some personnel during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Acting Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, said this at a press conference on Friday in Abuja, ahead of the governorship and state house of assembly elections.

He told Nigerians to go out and vote in the elections, saying the military would remain professional in the discharge of its duties throughout the period and beyond.

“Despite the unfortunate attacks on our personnel by political hoodlums during the last election, the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), as a professional and reputable institution, wishes to reassure the public that no reprisal attack will be carried out by any military personnel, unit or formation,” Colonel Nwachukwu said.

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He added, “It is imperative to state that no one deserves to lose his or her life during elections, be it personnel of security agencies, civilians, electoral officials or observers, both local and international.”

The DHQ spokesman explained that the briefing was called to reiterate that the role of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in the elections was to support the Nigeria Police, in ensuring that Nigerians were able to perform their civic obligations in a peaceful and secure environment.

According to him, this role is enshrined in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which stipulates that the AFN could be deployed to assist the Nigeria Police in maintaining law and order during elections.

In carrying out the task, Colonel Nwachukwu noted that the military is guided by the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement (ROE) provided for personnel deployed to maintain security during the polls.

He stated, “It is crucial to re-emphasise the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, that while military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty of voting as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they must approach their polling units in civilian clothing, devoid of any military accoutrements.”

The acting Director of Defence Information, thereafter, warned that any military personnel who is not on election security duty and found in military uniform on Election Day would be arrested and sanctioned in accordance with the military justice system.

He said all military commanders have been tasked to ensure that sanity prevails in their respective Areas of Responsibility.

In order to guarantee a prompt response to security challenges in any part of the country, Colonel Nwachukwu disclosed that the military had established situation rooms where security situations were being monitored during the elections.

He assured Nigerians that the military would continue to complement and support the efforts of the police in ensuring that law-abiding citizens and members of the international community go about their legitimate duties and obligations in an environment devoid of violence and insecurity.

He, however, called for more support for the security agencies and asked the people to report any suspicious person or activities likely to undermine the nation’s security for prompt action.