Coalition of Civil Society Groups and Election Observers, has, condemned continued deployment of soldiers for elections in the country, saying “it’s an attempt to intimidate, harass and build unnecessary tensions around an election process, which ordinarily should be a civil exercise”.
This was even as it called on the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS; African Union, AU and the United Nations, UN to immediately prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari, to “cease the ongoing hostilities against the people of Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and other states, presently under military hostages ahead of Saturday’s elections”.
The group, however, appealed for peaceful conduct by the people while exercising their constitutional franchise in the coming Governorship and State Assembly elections, but urged them not to be intimidated by the heavy presence of security agents in their various states and polling units.
Addressing journalists Wednesday in Abuja, coordinator of the group, Comrade Okpanachi Jacob noted that it was a gradual process of militarization of various Nigerian states by the federal government.
Okpanachi said: “While it is an undeniable fact, that our security agencies particularly the Nigerian Police have played crucial roles in ensuring a peaceful conduct of our elections, we are worried that same cannot be said about the conduct of the military which ordinarily have no statutory obligation, during elections.
“We must all remember that democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and when security agents who are hitherto expected to be impartial and neutral, become openly partisan, demonstrating lack of integrity and acting blatantly as agents of political parties”.
He recalled that during the recently concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, there were media reports of “the ignoble conduct of the military in some parts of the country, mainly in the Niger Delta region, where elections practically became war, leading to the death of over 30 people, including a personnel of the Nigerian Army”.
Okpanachi, who was flanked by the group’s secretary, Mr. Olufemi Johnson and others, lamented that the conduct of the soldiers deployed for the election, especially in the Niger Delta, showed that the military lacks capacities and knowledge of being impartial and competent to be involved in the conduct of fair, free and credible election.
The coordinator said the group, as a matter of patriotism, owed it a duty to challenge and reject every element that threatens the nation’s democratic growth.
He, however, urged Nigerians to desist from any form of electoral violence, but support the Police in ensuring the sanctity of Saturday’s elections.
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