Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nigerian Army, Police Urged to Uphold National Interests During Last Election Phase

Army, police task officers on national interest at polls

Monday, 25 April 2011 00:00 From Madu Onuorah and Lemmy Ughegbe (Abuja ) and Ayoyinka Olagoke

ACN warns against rigging

Rights panel urges mass turnout

AS the last round of the nation’s election holds tomorrow, the Nigerian Army and the Police have urged their officers that would be involved in the exercise to place the national interest above other considerations.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Sarkin Yaki Bello, urged troops that their actions should not be dictated by any religious, political or ethnic considerations but “sheer national interest.”

Also, the Assistant Inspector General of police (AIG) zone six Mr. Mohammed Abubakar said the police command would redouble their efforts to ensure security of lives and property as well as provide credible, free and fair elections. He said adequate security measures had been put in place to secure the lives of voters tomorrow.

Abubakar made this known in an interview with The Guardian in Calabar, zone six headquarters while talking on the level of preparedness of the zone during and after the polls. He called on the electorate to come out en masse and elect candidates of their choice without fear.

The AIG who is in charge of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers and Ebonyi states maintained that the security of lives was of paramount to the police.

Bello told troops of the 82 Division Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) charged with checkmating insecurity occasioned by terrorism, kidnap, armed robbery and communal crisis in Abia, Akwa Ibom and neighbouring states they should ensure that elections are done peacefully devoid of any disturbance to public peace and security.

The FOB’s are located at Okigwe, Umuahia, Obot Akara, Akirika Oboh, Azumini, Ngwa – Aba, Asa and Egwati, all located in the bushes/agrarian areas of Abia and Akwa Ibom states.

Bello emphasised that as professional soldiers, they must remain apolitical as they serve as second tier of security in aid of civil police.

He charged troops to disregard “senseless, inciting text messages going round” and described them as “the handwork of mischief makers.”

Conveying the Chief of Army Staff Easter greetings to the troops, the GOC commended them for the good job being done by the soldiers especially in assisting the Nigeria Police to provide security during the National Assembly and Presidential Elections.

He, therefore, urged them to do better in the coming governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

According to Gen Bello, “as professional soldiers, we are not dictated by our religious, political or ethnic considerations but sheer national interest.”

He later donated a total of N150,000 to each of the FOBs to buy cows and drinks for the celebration of Easter.

Bello was accompanied on the visits by Commander 14 Brigade Brig.-Gen. Sylvester Audu, Chief of Staff, 82 Division, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Agbab, Commander 54 Division Signal, Col. Peter Ibeawuchi, Commander, 82 Division Intelligence Group, Col. Bala Isandu and Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa.

Yesterday too, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) warned against rigging tomorrow’s governorship and State Houses of Assembly election.

In a statement issued in Ilorin yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the people’s anger would surely descend on anyone or party that attempts to thwart the will of voters tomorrow.

It said the warning was particularly necessary because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been planning how it would ‘capture’ Lagos State despite the huge acceptance of the ACN in the state.

According to the ACN, the plank of the PDP’s bravado is that it will ride on the back of the “victory” of President Goodluck Jonathan in the state in the April 16 presidential election.

The ACN said the same warning applied to any of the states in which the party (ACN) was poised to carry the day, “barring any systematic rigging by the irredeemable PDP, especially Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Imo states, just to mention a few.”

‘’What the people want is a genuinely free, fair and credible election. The seemingly free and fair poll so far, under the Modified Open Ballot System, has now been proven to be a facade in the real sense, since the poor oversight by INEC as well as observers at the various levels of the collation stage has given room for the PDP to massively doctor or … cook up figures,’’ the party said.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on Nigerians to turn out en masse to cast their votes tomorrow for candidates of their choice at the governorship polls, saying they should not be deterred by the ugly orgy of violence that greeted the outcome of the presidential polls.

The commission also called for an increase in the deployment of security agents to the “trouble” spots ahead of the governorship polls in order to proactively deal with any unrest that may arise before it gets out of hand.

In a statement released by the commission’s Executive Secretary, Roland Ewubare, he decried the colossal loss of lives and property nationwide owing to the mayhem visited on the people by politicians.

“By the mayhem, killing and destruction of lives and property since the presidential polls, what the cowards seek to achieve is to scare Nigerians from another crucial stage of elections. The commission therefore enjoins all Nigerians not to be deterred by the sad events of the past week, but to come out en masse and exercise their franchise this Tuesday as they did in the previous elections”, Ewubare urged.

The commission which said the mayhem visited on innocent people in protest against election results was despicable and unacceptable and advised all those aggrieved by the outcome of the polls to seek a remedy through constitutional and lawful means, adding that those seeking to rig would always want to capitalise on the low turnout of voters to execute their criminal ploys.

Ewubare said: “The NHRC condemns in the strongest terms the spate of killings and other manifestations of violent criminal activities across the country.

“The reported post election violence unleashed on a mix of targets in Sokoto, Adamawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Gombe, Kano, Borno and other states has led to the loss of several lives and destruction of property of many innocent Nigerians.

“This flagrant violation of the right to life and other rights of law abiding Nigerians is inhuman, morally despicable and unacceptable under the present democratic dispensation.

“All persons who feel aggrieved about the outcome of the elections should seek redress through well-established constitutional avenues and the provisions of the Electoral Act.

“We call on all stakeholders, particularly politicians to respect the code of conduct they signed before the elections, which enjoined them to take legal steps against perceived electoral irregularities, rather than engage in or instigate violence against innocent citizens.

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