Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, yesterday launched the Nigerian Army Situation Room to monitor security situations before, during and after the general election in the country beginning on Saturday.
The situation room is charged with the responsibility of monitoring perceived flashpoints, violence-prone areas and curbing the activities of hoodlums and miscreants who might want to create problems and deprive citizens the right to carry out their civic duty.
It is also charged with the responsibilities of check thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers, kidnapping or abduction of election officers and party agents and destruction of life and property, among others.
Buratai said the situation room became necessary given the history of violence in past election processes in the country.
According to him, “It is pertinent to state that the post-election violence, which characterised previous elections, clearly highlights the challenges posed by incidents of electoral violence in the country. Hence, the Nigerian Army saw the need to devise new strategies to stem such ugly tides or completely eliminate same.
“Lessons learnt from previous election violence witnessed have put the nature or types of violence into three broad categories, namely, pre, during and post-election violence.
“Violence at the various phases of elections includes thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers and kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents as well as wanton destruction of life and property, respectively.
“Having observed this cycle of violence recur severally in our past electioneering processes, the Nigerian Army has thus deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture that would allow us to better respond to early signs of insecurity before they could escalate into a major security challenge. It is in this light that the Nigerian Army has launched ‘OP SAFE CONDUCT’ and also gone ahead to establish this situation room for real-time monitoring.
“At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous threat to both the democratic process and military operations. The use of media, especially social media, to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.
“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby influencing public sentiment and sowing confusion among the electorate, or even easily igniting violence during the period of the elections.”