Military pledges to defend democracy
• Warns personnel against compromise, subversion
THE military has reiterated its commitment to support the electoral process and safeguard the nation’s democracy, contrary to insinuations that there is a plan to take over government. It also warned all military personnel against seditious acts or taking steps capable of compromising democratic governance.
The assurance was contained in a statement yesterday in Abuja by the Director of Defence Information, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, to douse the “palpable tension being generated in certain quarters with regards to the roles of the Nigerian military in the ongoing political activities and recent developments especially in relation to the electioneering programmes in the country.”
He said: “Nigerians and the friends of the country should be reassured that the Armed Forces believe strongly in the prospects of the country under a democratic rule and will continue to discharge its responsibility to support our democracy as constitutionally guaranteed.”
He made it clear that the citizens of the country needed to be reassured that “the Armed Forces of Nigeria remain committed to its duty in working to ensure the sustenance of peace, law, order and stability in the country before, during and after the forthcoming elections.”
He stressed that the Armed Forces would remain professional, apolitical and non-partisan in all operations or activities in the course of the process.
Olukolade maintained that the military was mindful of its constitutional responsibilities and would not depart from it, as it had demonstrated in previous elections.
He warned that the March polls would not be different and any of the personnel found to have taken a divergent position from the sworn oath would face the music.
The statement went on: “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is quite conscious of the fact that apart from its primary constitutional role of defending the country from external aggression and internal insurrection, it also has the responsibility of providing support in aid of civil authority such as the need to provide complementary security arrangement to protect our electoral process. It is on record that the military has successfully lived up to its responsibility while discharging this duty during previous elections without equivocation.
“All military personnel have been reminded and warned to remain ever conscious of their service oath and solemn commitment to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even while remaining loyal to constituted authorities in the country.
“No excuse will be acceptable for any act of commission or omission that tends to compromise the law or the electoral process as well as decent conduct or judgment on the part of any service personnel while discharging duties related to elections in any part of the country.”
While also recognising the peculiarity of the current security challenges being experienced in the country, the statement said that the military was unequivocally assuring all citizens that it recognised the fact that the nation’s larger interest and her security was sacrosanct and beyond any political expediency or ulterior consideration, as such the need for Nigerians to separate the institution from partisan politics and “retain their confidence in its neutrality and sense of patriotism”.
It noted that the leadership of the military, from the Chief of Defence Staff to the service chiefs and the entire personnel, could not deny that they were beneficiaries of the dividends of democracy and would continue to cherish it, adding: “They will, therefore, not engage in, condone or encourage any act that has capacity to undermine or subvert any aspect of the democratic processes.”