March 31, 2011

Polls: Soldiers’ll carry arms, says COAS


BENIN – WITH  less than 48 hours to the National Assembly election in the country, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, Thursday, in Benin, warned all persons who may have perfected plans to foment trouble during the April polls to have a rethink, saying that it would be an unnecessary venture.

Answering questions from journalists shortly after he paid a courtesy visit on Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Lt-Gen. Ihejirika said “As I said earlier, we have done enough in terms of preparations and I am also happy to note that we have much more logistics this time around  than we have before even though the level of violence has also increased than we know before”.

“The Army is prepared to do our very best to prevent violence. Like I said in Ibadan, I still appeal to hoodlums to have a re-think because it is an unnecessary venture. It is the desire of all citizens and all good citizens of Nigeria to have peaceful, free and fair elections. The Army in this respect will work in conjunction with the other services”

“Let me say that we will bear arms not to interfere with the electoral process. We will bear arms to ensure that those who want to interfere with the electoral process by use of arms are prevented from doing so”. ..

 The Chief of Army Staff had earlier told Governor Oshiomhole of his readiness to address contemporary challenges facing the Nigeria Army particularly internal problems within the force.

 Lt-Gen. Ihejirika while stressing the need for professionalism in the Army told the governor that his visit to Edo State was in continuation of the tour of 2nd Division area of responsibility, disclosing that the tour has afforded him the opportunity to access the readiness of officers of the Nigerian Army to discharge their constitutional responsibility during the April polls.

Responding, Governor Oshiomhole thanked the Chief of Army Staff for the visit and expressed gratitude to him for the collaboration of the military in the state with the state government in the area of internal security.

He added that the Army was helping the State Government to make a difference in the state security outfit, “Operation Thunderstorm” as its involvement has led to the arrest of several criminals.

The Governor commended the Nigeria Army and the Armed Forces for standing on the side of democracy since 1999, saying that though some people were uncomfortable with the involvement of the Army in the April elections, he was personally comfortable because he believed the Army in the past had shown neutrality and would do so during the elections.

Oshiomhole insisted that the Army’s involvement was necessary because the Police alone had no capacity to provide the required security during the polls.

“In Edo, the people are looking forward to a peaceful election even though there are people who are determined to undermine the process. This is where the role of the Army becomes necessary”, he said