Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 7 March 2019 | 1,583 times
A coalition of civil society organisations and election observers have reacted angrily to the ongoing militarisation of some states in the Niger Delta region, ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections.
Rejecting the military siege on the Niger Delta region, the group said the military has no constitutional power to superintendent over the conduct of elections in the country.
The coalition claimed that the attempt by the present administration of President Muhammad Buhari is aimed at intimidating, harassing and building unnecessary tension around an election process which, ordinarily, should be a civil exercise.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, National Coordinator of the coalition, Comrade Okpanachi Jacob, stated: “Nigerian Police have played crucial roles in ensuring a peaceful conduct of our election but we are worried that same cannot be said about the conduct of the military with no statutory obligation during elections.”
He added: “We must all remember that Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Security operatives are also expected to be impartial, neutral and demonstrate integrity as agents of political parties.”
In a related development, the organisation bemoaned the ignoble heavy deployment of troops in some parts of the Niger Delta region of the country, saying that election became war in those states and led to the death of over 30 people, including personnel of the Nigerian Army.
“We must not allow desperate politicians and their collaborators within security agencies to truncate this democracy. And when we find ourselves under such circumstance such as it is presently being witnessed, appropriate action must be taken not to allow our democracy to be derailed,” the group stated.
The coalition urged President Buhari to have a rethink on the role he has given the military, saying that “this is about election but not war. The military has no job at the collation centres, polling units as they can only serve as back-up for the Police.”
It, however, called on ECOWAS, African Union and the United States of America to immediately prevailing on President Buhari to cease the ongoing hostilities against the people of Niger Delta presently under military hostages ahead of the Saturday’s elections.
Equally, the Coalition beseeched Nigerians to shun any form of violence and support the Nigerian Police in ensuring sanctity of the polls of Saturday.
“We encourage the acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adam to keep treading the path of professionalism and uphold the rule of law,” the group added.
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