February 3, 2015

We’re ready for elections—Service Chiefs

We’re ready for elections—Service Chiefs

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Bade (l); Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar (r) and other Service Chiefs during the day-long security meeting chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 02/05/2014

  • As Abdulsalam warns against inciting utterances
  • Army has no business in polling booths — IGP
  • Amuka calls for self censorship

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Joseph Erunke & Caleb Ayansina

ABUJA — NIGERIAN Security Chiefs, yesterday, said the military was ready for the general elections expected to commence on February 14 with the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The Service Chiefs who revealed this at the National Peace Committee for the 2015 elections meeting with representatives of different political parties in Abuja said that all the logistic problems that had affected the 2011 elections had been taken care of to ensure that the elections go as scheduled.

Specifically, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosun said; “We have commenced the airlift of the materials needed for the elections starting from Abuja, we will continue with the elections. The whole spectrum of the elections would be involved. It was logistics problems that made us to postpone the election four years ago, it is not going to happen again, we are already ahead of the game.

“We have a lot of unmanned airports in Nigeria, we have already deployed our men, we are going to man those airports. So, should we have saboteurs planning to use any of those airfields, it will be difficult for them. We are going to block all those unmanned airfields. We have already deployed and set up our soldiers to man those airfields. Those are the areas we may have linkages, the airport security, we are already ahead of the game to man the airfields to stop those that will want to bring in illegal materials into the country.”

The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, said that though the military was much occupied with the insurgency in the north-east, they had capacity to tame any act of violence before, during and after the election. He said, “We are not directly involved in elections and electioneering but before the elections, we deploy will our personnel across the nation to assist civil powers and authority. During the elections, as we have done in other states, we also ensure that people are not used to go and cause trouble or mayhem after the elections and should there be any disturbances, we will assist the police.

“The military will deploy as much as we can across the nation. Even though we are busy in the north east, we also have capability across the nation.”

Chief of Army Staff General Kenneth Minimah said, “We are aware of the need for security before, during and after the elections. We will deploy across the states of the federation, in areas we discover that have capacity for violence. We are prepared to ensure we have a peaceful election. I appeal to politicians to obey the rules of the game and advise their followers to respect the laws of the land. As stipulated in the Electoral Act and the Constitution, no individual or groups should take the laws into their hands. We want the nation to have peace after this election.”

The former Head of State, Genera Abdulsalam Abubakar who is the Chairman of National Peace Committee for the 2015 elections said that Nigeria could not afford to experience the kind of electoral carnage that followed election process in some parts of the world, urging politicians to desist from making provocative statements that are capable of disrupting the nation’s peace.

“I have been involved in a lot of peace talks. It is sad when you go round Africa and see the kind of injuries inflicted on people as a result of electoral violence. We appeal to Nigerians to eschew violence. The contestants signed an accord to maintain peace; we demand that their followers maintain peace. The media has a herculean task to preach peace and avoid sensational reporting. We are not taking these threats lightly; we have noted the various utterances.”

Support for civil authority

The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Suleiman Abba said that the military will have no business to be at the polling booths as it was not its responsibility. He also noted that the support for the civil authority by the military is statutorily provided as it was constitutionally provided in Section 217, adding that the military has the responsibility to support the civil society in maintaining internal security.

Chairman, Vanguard Media Limited, who is a member of the committee, Mr. Sam Amuka, in an interview said it was the responsibility of the media to undertake certain amount of self censorship, adding, “we should be wary of publishing some statements that can provoke anger and lead to violence.”

On the bashing of the media for allegedly heating up the polity, Mr. Amuka said, “there is no way you won’t bash the media. If you make a statement and the media does not give it attention, how many people will hear it. So the mass media have an important role, to preserve the peace of the country.”

Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu who was represented by the party’s Deputy National Legal Adviser said the leader of the PDP and President of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had in a number of occasions clearly said that his ambition did not worth the blood of any Nigerian, expressing that the president had showed enough commitment towards ensuring a credible and peaceful election.