The Nigerian military, intelligence and security agencies, have assured Nigerians of their commitment to ensure a peaceful and violence free election on Saturday, while reiterating their neutrality in the electoral process.
Backstory: The heads of the security agencies comprising of the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, Director General of Directorate of State Services (DSS) and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), made this assurance ahead of the elections, at an unprecedented joint press conference on Thursday in Abuja.
A joint statement was read by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.
“I wish to say that the Armed Forces of Nigeria as well as other security and intelligence agencies are also committed to a violence free election and that all Nigerians eligible to vote are able to carry out their civic responsibility and vote for candidates of their choice without any fear of molestation by any person or group,” he said.
Impersonation plot: Olonisakin said that security agencies are aware of a plot by some political leaders to illegally use uniforms of military and paramilitary agencies to impersonate security and law enforcement agencies, illegal firearms to intimidate and harass members of the public with the aim of facilitating security breaches and election fraud on Saturday.
The general however warned that those apprehended will face the full weight of the law, saying, “the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies will not tolerate any act that is likely to cause security breaches before, during and after the elections, and will deal decisively with these acts irrespective of those involved.”
“In the last few months, various security agencies have been reviewing their strategies to ensure adequate security and protection for all Nigerians and other nationals living in Nigeria before, during and after the General Elections in February and March 2019. This is in line with our various constitutional responsibilities.”
“The meeting we have just had involved the heads of these agencies to ensure we further harmonize our strategies to provide adequate security for the smooth conduct of the general elections,” he explained.
Bottom Line: We will wait and see. The Nigerian military has shown too many instances of hyper partisanship in recent months for Nigerians to be completely trusting of their assurances. Even though this statement is an important step, their actions on Saturday will speak louder than mere words.