Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
In the light of the criticism from the United Kingdom and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the role of some soldiers in the electoral process especially in Rivers State, the Nigerian Army has defended its role insisting that it would continue to provide security for the safe conduct of the elections.
The Nigerian Army which shrugged over the criticism, enjoined Nigerians to continue to collaborate with it to ensure the peaceful conduct of the remaining lap of the 2019 elections as it is determined to ensure that there is adequate security for the elections.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who stated this in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State during the commissioning of some projects including a block of flats for Warrant Officers and Sergent at the 16 Brigade Command Headquarters said the army could not stand aloof and allow electoral violence to overshadow the conduct of the elections.
Buratai who was represented by Major General AA Saliu, Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), warned against fake news and false propaganda which he said were capable of igniting electoral violence.
“Permit me to use this opportunity to draw your attention to the Nigerian Army’s role in supporting other security agencies during the on-going electioneering process. As you would recall the earlier launched, Safe Conduct, is one of the series of exercises undertaken by the Nigerian Army to ensure the success of the 2019 general elections. This decision was borne out of our previous unpalatable experiences occasioned by electoral violence which has now been made worse by fake news.
“At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous trend to the democratic process and military operations. Use of media especially social media to deliberately the spread of fake news should be a thing of concern to all of us. The rapid spread of fake has been responsible for misinformation thereby having an influence on public sentiments and sowing confusion among the electorate and even ignites violence during the elections as we have now.”
Buratai commended the General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Major- General Jamil Sarham, and in particular the Commander of the 16 Brigade, Brig Gen Kevil Aligbe for the various projects which would go a long way to motivate the officers and men.
He also expressed gratitude to Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and the Belema Oil Servicing Company for fulfilling their promises made during the ground-breaking ceremony held in March 2018.
Sarham and Aligbe in separate remarks pleaded with Buratai to sustain his support for the command in its bid to complete all on-going projects. Projects commissioned include the 16 Brigade Quarter Guard, Garrison Headquarters Complex, 16 Brigade Integrated Medical centre and Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess and Corporal and below Quarters.