Military reads riot act to personnel ahead of elections
• Uniform allowance not to induce soldiers
• Army spokesman retires voluntarily
The military high command has read the riot act to personnel of the Nigerian Armed Forces with regards to their conduct in the forthcoming general elections.
The command warned that any military personnel not on essential duty, but found in uniform close to any polling station, would be arrested and tried in accordance with military laws.
Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, made the disclosure at a joint media briefing with spokesmen of the Army, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, Navy, Commodore Suleiman Dahun and Deputy Director, Nigeria Air Force Public Relations, Group Capt. Maigida.
Agim said: “It is on this note that the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to re-affirm its neutrality, impartiality and strict adherence to professional code of conduct before, during and after the general election.
“We would like to reiterate that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will carry out its constitutional duties with zero tolerance to unprofessional conduct. No military personnel are expected to fraternise with political parties and associations.”
While noting that military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty as enshrined in the Constitution, they must approach the polling units in mufti, devoid of any military accouterment.
The spokesman explained that the ongoing operation Egwu Eke III (Python Dance) and similar operations nationwide are not structured to oppress anyone, or group of persons as rumored in some quarters.
According to him, the exercises are to ensure that all eligible citizens, irrespective of their religion or political inclinations, are given the opportunity to carry out their civic rights.
He added: “All military commanders have been tasked to ensure adequate security in their areas of responsibility. They have also been further directed to ensure the adherence to code of conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties.
“These assigned tasks include arrest of anyone in military uniform who is not on essential duty on those days.
Likewise, any civilian caught in military uniform will be treated as a terrorist.”
Meanwhile, the Director of Nigerian Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen Sani Usman has announced his voluntary disengagement from the military.
Usman, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said though a new spokesman has not been named, he would hand over to Col. A. A. Yusuf, who is the Chief of Staff of the Directorate of Public Relations.
He described his career as exciting and fulfilling, saying he would be proceeding on terminal Leave from February 8.
“I would like seize this opportunity to thank you all for your friendship, love, support and encouragement over the years that tremendously assisted me personally, in repositioning the Directorate of Army Public Relations to the enviable height attained, thus far.
I also wish to thank the Nigerian nation for the wonderful opportunity to serve the country and humanity in various capacities for over three decades.”
Usman, had in a statement earlier in Maiduguri yesterday said “uniform payments of allowances” to soldiers are not any form of inducements.
He said, rather, they were for uniform upkeep and maintenance allowance for all army personnel, adding that the explanation followed reports in the social media that the allowance was to induce soldiers to favour a particular political party.
He added: “The payment of uniform allowance commenced in 2016 to assist troops deployed on Operation Lafiya Dole for upkeep and maintenance in the front lines of Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad region.”