Ahead of the general elections, the Defence Headquaters on Thursday warned that any military personnel not on duty wearing uniform on the election days will be arrested, while urging personnel to exercise their right to vote.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, who issued the warning at a press conference in Abuja also reiterated the Military’s resolve to be neutral and impartial and charged personnel not to fraternize with any political parties and association.
He said: “let me emphatically state that the Defence Headquarters has warned all Officers, Soldiers, Ratings, Airmen and Women of the Nigerian Armed Forces must remain neutral and exhibit exceptional professionalism before, during and after the upcoming eletions.
“To this end, with the exception of those on essential duties, no military personnel should be found wearing uniform on the election days.
Furtber, Agim, noted that ongoing exercise ‘Ewu EkE III in the South East and other similar exercise in various parts of the nation are not targeted at any particular set of people or groups in manipulating the electoral process.
He added that exercise is to ensure that eligible citizens, irrespective of the religion or political inclinations are given the opportunity to carry out their right to vote and be voted for in a peaceful environment devoid of violence and intimidation by criminal elements.
Similarly, the defence headquarter said it has credible intelligence report that there plans from some individuals to scuttle free and fair election in some part of the country,
“ we would like to caution that anyone caught, be they serving or retired military personnel, or civilians, no matter how highly placed will be arrested and treated in accordance with the extant laws of the land.
Asked whether the military was backing the ruling party to win the February 16 presidential election, Agim, said, “A political party, the Peoples Democratic Party conducted the 2015 election and an opposition party won. The military was there.
“The military is going to do the same in 2019 which is to ensure that voters move freely to cast their votes. We have done it before. And if there’re issues among the political parties, that is not our responsibility and we don’t want to talk about that.
“Ours is that we have deployed our men to all over the country to make sure that there is no part of the country the citizens don’t cast the votes because of security issues.
“That is what we’ve been doing and we can give you the assurance that, that is what we’re going to do. Whatever thing that is happening among the political parties, it is not what we’re here to talk about because the military does not belong to any political party.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Army Brig. Gen. Sani Usman denied claims in some quarters that the payment of uniform allowances is to sway the military in favour of a political party.
The Army spokesman said the payment of Uniform allowances is an exercise which has been going on since 2016.
He added that the various exercises launched recently across the country are also not targeted towards influencing the election but to provide a conducive environment for Nigerians to exercise their franchise.