….Says Buhari Lacks Powers To Deploy Soldiers For Election
Atiku to CAOS: Leave politics, tackle insurgency
By Dirisu Yakubu
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Wednesday warned the Chief of Army Staff, CAOS, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, not to drag officers and men of the military into the murky waters of partisan politics.
The party stated this in a reaction to the CAOS charge that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar should withdraw his counsel to the military not to obey an “unlawful” order earlier in the week by President Muhammadu Buhari, urging them to be ruthless on ballot box snatchers.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan on Wednesday, the PDP enjoined General Buratai to be guided by the provisions of the laws in his utterances especially as they relate to democracy.
The statement read, “General Buratai is counseled to note that the loyalty of the military is to the state and that the President lacks the powers, under our laws, to deploy soldiers for the conduct of elections.
“The PDP states that Atiku Abubakar spoke on the side of the law and wishes of Nigerians and cannot be intimidated by any body no matter how highly placed.
“Our party urges General Buratai to concentrate on his very demanding assignment of protecting the territorial integrity of our nation and ending insurgency rather than dabbling into partisan politics at the risk of our national cohesion.
“It is imperative to state that by trying to drag the military to participate in the February 23 Presidential elections, President Buhari plots to suspend our constitution, assume the position of an emperor, trigger unrest, subvert our electoral process and derail our democracy.
“The party directs President Buhari to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos on March 23, 2015, wherein the court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, directly outlawed the deployment of troops in the conduct of elections in our country.
“President Buhari should also avail himself of the subsisting judgment of the Court of Appeal, which on February 15, 2015, held that the President has no powers to deploy soldiers in the conduct of elections.
“The PDP further counsels President Buhari and General Buratai to end their rationalizing of military option, as the courts have summarily dismissed their arguments that soldiers are needed to guarantee peaceful elections.”
The statement continued: “It may interest President Buhari to know that the judgment was sequel to a suit filed by the APC Leader in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, seeking a declaration that deployment of soldiers during elections is illegal and unconstitutional.
“In case, President Buhari is not aware, as usual, the court directly held that “the Armed Forces have no role in elections” and if soldiers must vote, they must do so in their barracks.
According to the court, “the time has come for us to establish the culture of democratic rule in the country and to start to do the right thing particularly when it has to do with dealing with the electoral process, which is one of the pillars of democracy.
“In spite of the behaviour of the political class, we should by all means try to keep armed personnel and military from being a part and parcel of the electoral process.
“The state is obligated to confine the military to their very demanding assignment, especially in this time of insurgencies by keeping them out of elections’, the court held.
“The priming of the military ahead of the election, therefore, heightens the fear of plots by the APC to plunge our nation into crisis and use security forces to subjugate Nigerians, seeing that President Buhari has no chance of winning the February 23 Presidential Election.
The PDP therefore cautions President Buhari not to allow his desperation to push him to corrupt the patriotism of our military and use them against innocent Nigerians, whose only demand is for a free, fair and credible election.”
On his part, Atiku advised the Army Chief to channel his energy to tackling insurgency in some parts of the country rather than dabbling into partisan realm.
Speaking through the spokesman of the PDP Campaign Council, Kassim Afegbua, Atiku said:
“The Chief of Army Staff should be guided appropriately by relevant international protocols and conventions coupled with other domestic extant laws relating to the conduct of elections which do not prescribe any role what so ever for the military. The military should devote its time and energy on the battle against insurgency across the country instead of blowing hot air where there is none just to create panic in the minds of Nigerians.
“It will be good to notify the COAS that Nigerians will remain resolute before, during and after the elections in defence of their constitutional rights to vote and be voted for without let or hindrance. We have since alerted our supporters to be law abiding and conduct themselves within the labyrinth of the law during the election and voting process. This country is so dear to us, hence we will caution against any attempt to plunge it into avoidable crisis.”