By Daniels Nwokike, The Sight News
ABUJA: Ahead of the March 9 polls, the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has called on politicians and their supporters in the country to embrace peace before, during and after the Governership, State House of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections.
Making this call on Friday in Abuja, the Acting Director Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, while speaking to newsmen in a press briefing, reassured the public that despite the unfortunate attacks on military personnel by political hoodlums during the last election, there would be no reprisal attack by any military personnel, unit or formation.
Colonel Nwachukwu, stated that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a professional institution and would not be caught in the middle of what would distabilize the peace enjoyed in the country as such act is not in tandem with the AFN mandate
He added that the Armed Forces of Nigeria have the mandate to continue to compliment and support the efforts of the Nigerian Police in ensuring that all law abiding citizens of this nation and members of the international community go about their legitimate duties and obligations in an environment devoid of violence and insecurity.
The Ag. DDI commiserated with families of those who lost their lives during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, stating that no one deserved to lose their lives during elections, be it personnel of security agencies, civilians, electoral officials or observers, both local and international.
He further noted, that to ensure compliance of AFN personnel to the code of conduct during the elections and in order to guarantee prompt response to security challenges in any part of the country, the DHQ and the Services Headquarters established Situation Rooms where security situations are monitored across the nation during the elections.
According to him, “It is crucial to re-emphasize the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, that while military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty of voting as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they must approach their polling units in civilian clothings, devoid of any military accoutrements.
“Additionally, any military personnel who is not on election security duty found in military uniform on Election Day will be arrested and sanctioned in accordance with the military justice system.
“Likewise, all military Commanders have been tasked to ensure that sanity prevails in their respective Areas of Responsibility. These assigned tasks include; arrest of anyone in military uniform who is not on election security duty on the Election Day, likewise, any civilian caught in military uniform will be treated as an impostor”, he said.
Colonel Nwachukwu, clarified further that the role of the AFN in the on-going elections is to support the Nigeria Police in ensuring that Nigerians are able to perform their civic obligations in a peaceful and secured environment.
He added, that this role is enshrined in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which stipulates that the AFN could be deployed to assist the Nigeria Police in maintenance of law and order during elections.
“In carrying out this onerous task, the AFN is guided by the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement (ROE) that have been provided for military personnel deployed to maintain security during elections”, he quipped.
The DHQ therefore enjoined members of the public to report any suspicious person or activities likely to undermine the security of the nation before, during and after the elections to security agencies for prompt action.