By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA – As the Presidential elections commence nationwide tomorrow , the Nigeria Army says that the deployment of its officers and soldiers notwithstanding, it remains apolitical in the choice of Nigerian citizenry.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Rafael Isa who made the disclosure at a media parley in Abuja Friday, noted that despite the apprehension being expressed in some quarters about the necessity for the Army to be called out, “We (Army) will keep doing our constitutional duties the way we are meant to do it”.
Speaking on isolated incidents of skirmishes between army personnel deployed for election duties and voters or other officials, Isa said, “Our personnel have been trained. Our patrols are well positioned for the job of providing security.
Each and every one of them has the armed forces code of conduct for the elections. If there are problems, all you do is to explain yourself to them. And be patient with our patrol teams on the road”.
Asked to give the number of soldiers deployed for the election exercise, the spokesman said, “All I can tell you is that the Nigeria Army is adequately deployed. We don’t have any business with polling booths but we are to provide security to both INEC and security of the environment”
“In the last National Assembly elections, our patrols reported encounters with people who wanted to snatch ballot boxes and our men did very well. Our men apprehended several of the culprits and promptly handed them to the police for prosecution”.
When informed that journalist covering the elections had difficulties with soldiers in the performance of the duties at some point, the Army spokesman said, “All Commanders have been told and they know that the media is permitted to go to even the grassroots to perform their duties. This was made clear even at the INEC, Security and Media parley and this must be adhered to. But that is not to say the media will deliberately provoke people doing their work”.