Election rigging: Resist pressure, opposition warns military, DHQ cautions soldiers

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Opposition parties on Thursday warned the military against succumbing to pressure from unnamed politicians to compromise the 2023 general elections.

The Peoples Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party, Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party unanimously admonished the armed forces to operate within the confines of the law and stick to its standard operating procedure.

The ruling All Progressives Congress on the other hand called for a probe of the allegation that some people were mounting pressure on the military to undermine the forthcoming polls, describing the claim as weighty.

The parties’ warning came on the heels of the comments by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, that the military and other security agencies are always facing constant pressure from politicians to compromise elections.

Irabor, who said this in response to questions from journalists at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, however, assured Nigerians that the military would remain neutral.

According to him, military personnel face pressure from politicians through inducements, but the armed forces, he noted, would remain apolitical as it is taking measures to ensure professionalism in compliance with the directive of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to maintain neutrality.

The PUNCH reports that the President while addressing over 300 military officers during the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2022 in Sokoto on Monday, directed the Nigerian Armed Forces to remain apolitical during the 2023 general elections and limit their operations within the constitutional framework.

He also urged them to refrain from human rights abuses to win the hearts of ordinary Nigerians.

During the media briefing at the Presidential Villa, journalists had asked the CDS how the military had een resisting the usual pressure from politicians and how far they were ready to go to maintain their neutrality as directed by the President.

But Irabor in his response said, “Of course, there will always be pressure from all quarters wanting to induce security forces, not just the military, the security force and the police. And that’s what criminal enterprise is all about. That is what something wrong is all about.

‘’But what makes the difference is the professional approach to dealing with those issues. And that’s what, as the military, we are committed to doing.”

The Defence chief further revealed that personnel are being trained to be more professional even as the rules of engagement and standard operating procedure have been codified to be used as training and reference material before, during and after the elections.

He noted, “Now, this is why we have ramped up our training in that regard; sensitisation-a lot of engagement across the formations and units is being undertaken. And then, we have articulated the code of conduct for all our personnel, which has been done and distributed.

“So what should they act before, during and after the elections; these are being codified in the SOP that had been issued to them. So, it remains the duty of the commanders to ensure that the directive, as indicated and the contents of the SOP is adhered to by every personnel in the armed forces.”

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