Friday, March 27, 2015

Nigerian Polls: We Are Ready for Troublemakers – Army
Thursday, 26 March 2015 05:01
Written by Ronald Mutum
Nigerian Daily Trust

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, addressed a news conference in Abuja yesterday.

Minimah has warned that politicians planning violence during the elections would be met by “organized violence.”

The polls begin on Saturday with the Presidential and National Assembly elections to be followed by the governorship and state assembly elections on April 11.

He spoke yesterday when he walked into a press conference being addressed by the Army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.

Colonel Usman was answering questions on election security when General Minimah joined the session that usually holds monthly.

He said: “Whoever wants to invoke or provoke violence would meet ‘organized violence’ waiting for him.”

He said a few years ago, political support for presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney polarised the American people politically, but that none of them threatened the peace of the United States, or threatened violence.

Minimah also said none of the parties contesting election in the United Kingdom had threatened violence. “Nobody thinks of violence as a process of the elections, why must we in Nigeria consider violence as a process of our own election,” he asked.

“Therefore, every Nigerian should go about the election as a normal day’s job, go and vote and do your normal day’s engagement.

 “Whoever threatens violence will meet violence, the election should come and go peacefully, if you win, rule, if you lose, the remedies are there, go to court,” he said.

General Minimah appealed to politicians, their followers and supporters to keep the peace and ensure a violence free election.

“I will appeal to law abiding Nigerians to come out en mass, vote for candidates of their choice without fear of intimidation, without fear for their safety, it is their right to vote he said”

He added that the armed forces, together with other security organisations, have made adequate arrangements for security during the general elections.

On the court order barring soldiers from election duty, Minimah responded thus: “I can interpret it further, this is not your first elections, you have seen several elections in Nigeria, and you have seen soldiers providing security for the elections.

“Have you seen soldiers at polling booths? Have you seen soldiers counting ballots or carry ballot material, papers, boxes or whatever? So I don’t know what you are asking? I should even ask you,” he said.

Answering earlier questions, the army spokesman said allegations that the Presidency is planning to hand over power to the military is uncharitable.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said in Abeokuta Tuesday that there are rumours in the country that the government might hand over power to the military.

He warned that if such rumour becomes a reality, it would undermine the integrity of Nigeria among the comity of nations.

Reacting, the Army spokesman said: “For anybody to say such a thing that person is being uncharitable to the Nigerian army.

“I stand to be corrected if there is any institution more than the army that has been in the vanguard of sustenance of democracy in the country.”

On the counter terrorism campaign, Col Usman said the army had been acquiring new equipment which is being deployed in the north-east, and that troops were being trained on how to handle them.

In some cases the training was being conducted in the theatre of war, but added that this had given rise to the false report about mercenaries were engaged in the fighting.

Col Usman announced that the army had begun the payment of scholarship to children and dependants of all deceased personnel who died in active service.

He said the payment, based on approved criteria, would end at the end of the month.

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