The Nigerian Army has set up a five-man panel of inquiry to probe the involvement of military personnel in politicking during the elections that held in the country in 2014 and 2015.
The elections in Osun and Ekiti in 2014, as well as those in some other states during the March and April 2015 elections across the country allegedly had heavy involvement of the military, which is against the norms and ethics of that institution. The most prominent example was in Ekiti where a secretly recorded audio tape surfaced after the polls. The tape caught the conversation between Gov. Ayo Fayose (then the PDP candidate), Musiliu Obanikoro (defence minister), Chris Uba (a top financier of the PDP), Sen. Iyiola Omisore (PDP candidate in Osun which also held elections in 2014) and Brig. Gen. Momoh, the general officer commanding of the army division in Ekiti.
The 37-minute audio recorded by Captain Sagir Koli and verified by international consultants caught the voices of these men as they plotted different strategies to win the elections which Fayose eventually won in a landslide. Brig. Gen. Momoh was promised a promotion if he pulled off the act. “If I am happy tonight, the sky will be your limit,” said then defence minister, Obanikoro, to the general.
Despite that case being the most prominent because of the audio evidence, there were allegations in other states across the country, which called the integrity and neutrality of the Nigerian military into question. As a result, a probe panel presided over by Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, has been set up by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
“As most of you are aware, the last general election conducted in March 2015 elicited criticism in some quarters, especially from the general public, particularly on conduct of Nigerian army personnel during both the gubernatorial and presidential elections respectively. These allegations were centred on the gubernatorial elections conducted in some states such as Ekiti, Osun, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom, to mention a few. The panel is to investigate these allegations and recommend appropriate measures to prevent a reoccurrence in the future,” said panel president Oyebade, who is the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Headquarters, 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna.
He told journalists on Monday that the panel which has Brigadier General Emmanuel Kabuk, Brigadier General Sunday Araoye, and Brigadier General Baba Ibrahim, as members, has been given two weeks to submit its report. Col. Danladi Salihu will serve as secretary of the panel.
The chief of army staff, according to Oyebade, felt there was a need to set up the panel of inquiry because of his belief that the Nigerian Army must be professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles, and “the military as a noble profession of arms must remain apolitical in our democratic dispensation.”
He called on Nigerians to “as a matter of urgency appear in person if they so wish and forward their petitions in form of memorandum either personally to Headquarters 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna or via courier addressed to the secretary, panel of investigation on elections, HQ 1Division, Kawo, Kaduna.”