from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA – THE Nigerian Armed Forces has warned officers against interfering in the holding of general elections this weekend.
This follows fears some officers could overthrow a government that civilians will elect in a poll whose run-up has been characterised by violence, hate speech and fears of rigging.
The army has faced accusations of being partisan to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari and his infighting party face a fierce challenge from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), whose candidate is former vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Brigadier General John Agim, acting Director of Defence Information, however, re-affirmed the armed forces’ neutrality, impartiality and strict adherence to a professional code.
“No military personnel are expected to fraternize with any political parties and associations,” Agim said at a media briefing.
“Let me emphatically state that the Defence Headquarters has warned that all officers, soldiers, ratings, airmen and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces must remain neutral and exhibit exceptional professionalism before, during and after the upcoming elections.”
Agim said while all military personnel had the right to vote as enshrined in the constitution, they must approach their polling units without military attire.
“Any military personnel who is not on essential duty and is found on military uniform on the election day will be arrested and face the full wrath of military justice system,” he warned.
Nigeria has a history of military coups since independence from Britain in 1960.
Democracy returned in 1999 six years after a coup led by General Sani Abacha, now late.
– CAJ News