THE Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, says the Nigerian Army is alert and ready to foil any attempt at causing violence during the forthcoming elections.
Buratai was speaking during a meeting with army Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding and Brigade Commanders, at the Nigerian Army Headquarters Abuja.
He said that any individual or group that attempts to cause a breakdown of law and order during the elections is an enemy of democracy and that the army would not hesitate to deal with the person(s) accordingly.
“The Nigerian Army has since resolved to rise up, challenge and foil the attempt by anyone or group with violence proclivity to disrupt Saturday’s elections. We shall be on the alert, to see that their devilish, callous and retrogressive plots do not come to pass,” Buratai said.
The Chief of Army Staff disclosed that many parts of the country have enjoined relative peace and calmness prior to the election, as a result of the launching of “Operation Safe Conduct”, “Python Dance III” and other military operations.
The COAS reassured Nigerians that the Army will remain apolitical and neutral before, during, and after the polls, adding that they would discharge their responsibilities professionally, and responsively, in line with best global standards of military engagement.
The meeting of the top military top hierarchy is coming a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari said he had ordered the security agencies to “be ruthless” in dealing with anybody who tries to disrupt the election in any way. Buhari had warned that anyone who causes violence during the elections does so “at the expense of his own life”.
However, Abubakar Atiku, Buhari’s main challenger for the presidential position, said that the armed forces have no role whatsoever in Nigeria’s electoral process. He urged the armed forces not to obey President Buhari’s directive on being brutal with trouble makers during the election.
But during his speech on Wednesday, Buratai described Atiku’s remarks as unfortunate, expressing dismay that someone like Atiku could be suggesting that the military should disregard an order from the Commander-in-Chief of the country
He urged Atiku to withdraw the statement and render a public apology for attempting to invite the army to go against the “constituted authority”.
Buratai also advised serving army officers to quit over-fraternising with their former colleagues who are now retired and are now running for political offices.