The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has ordered the withdrawal of soldiers from all politicians ahead of the rescheduled general election.
Buratai made this known at a meeting with Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding and Directors held at Army Headquarters, Abuja on Wednesday.
The Army Chief said that the withdrawal was part of efforts to ensure that the Army remained apolitical and neutral during the course of the election.
Buratai further disclosed that the Nigerian Army would deal with ballot box snatching and other forms of electoral malpractices as a threat to national security and deal with such accordingly.
He said, “I want to remind all here present that the act of electoral thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, illegal possession of elections materials and similar crimes are intended to mar an election and create deliberate avenues for post-election violence and mayhem.
Such actions can also become more damaging when they are widespread, leading to destruction of lives and properties.
Incidences of this nature in previous elections are often planned and orchestrated by politicians and the NA has hitherto been very cautious in its approach.
However, this time around the NA will adopt a proactive posture that ensures that similar incidences do not even arise.
Accordingly, in addition to my earlier directives to you in the last Operations Conference, I wish to lay emphasis on the following actions that all commanders are to abide by:
a. Commanders must deal decisively with any electoral crime or action that would be inimical to National Security.
b. Commanders are to ensure that they and their personnel do not hobnob with politicians at any level. In this regard, there will be no military escort for any politician and all NA personnel are to stay clear of retired military officers especially those who are now politicians until after the elections.
c. Commanders are to conduct extensive patrols within their AORs. They must ensure that all flash points within the area are dominated.
d. Commanders must in conjunction with the NPF enforce the restriction on movement within their AORs. All vehicles must be searched and suspicious persons or vehicles arrested/impounded and later hand over to the NPF.
e. Commanders must ensure they key into the NA Elections Security Monitoring Situation Room to send and receive near real-time information on events, as they occur in their AOR.”