By Alemma Aliu
FORMER Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (retd) yesterday, said it was an aberration for personnel of the Army to be used for elections and other civil matters, which he said ordinarily, were responsibilities of the police.
Besides, the retired military strategist turned lawyer said for peace to be achieved in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and all government agencies, including security operatives involved in the 2019 elections must ensure that the process was transparent.
He said: “The age long concept of national sovereignty cannot provide a cover for any government or individual acting on abuse of the right of the people to freely choose their leaders. It is therefore, imperative to emphasise that there has been very fundamental shift in the erstwhile concept of the doctrine of non–intervention vis-à-vis that of national sovereignty.”
In the new world, the need for global security and mutual co-operation among nations has become most compelling. There is now less emphasis on the two above mentioned concepts.
“Let Nigerians be reminded that in recent years, Nigerians have been key players in enforcing democracy in far and near countries in the world. Examples are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, and more recently the Gambia. It is therefore, not only contradictory but laughable for us as a country to warn other nations to stay away even if we act in any manner inconsistent with the concept of democracy or other global norms.”
He said Nigerians must subject themselves to the constitution of the country “Which guarantees democracy and social justice along with other important provisions. Among other things, our constitution spells out the role of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. The duty of law and order maintenance within the context of our constitution rests mainly with the Nigeria police together with other civil law enforcement bodies. The duty of the military is to protect the integrity of the nation from external aggression and guarantee from territorial integrity from assault from land, air, or sea. The only responsibility the military has in relationship to law and order is to “restore law and order” when there is breakdown beyond the capability of the civil law enforcement agencies.
“Ordinarily, therefore, the Armed Forces should have no business being involved in electoral processes except and only when the President with the approval of the National Assembly calls on the Armed Forces as an extraordinary measure to restore law and order as entrenched in the constitution.”