Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
West African Action Network on Small Arms, Nigeria chapter (WAANASA-Nigeria), has expressed worry over the heavy military presence in some states in Nigeria including Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Benue and Lagos ahead of the governorship and House of Assembly elections this Saturday.
President of the network in Nigeria, Ms. Josephine Habba who spoke to newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Friday evening, described the development as totally unacceptable.
“As an organisation in the pursuit of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections, we support the deployment of adequate security to maintain order and prevent any threat to the electorate in the pursuit of their civic responsibilities
“The presence of heavily-armed military personnel deployed to various local government areas of Benue is nothing but militarisation and consequent intimidation of the people of Benue State who are yet to recover from the damages and trauma occasioned by the perennial farmers-herders crisis in the state.
Habba feared that with the presidential order to the security operatives on election management, the current massive deployment may fertilize unprofessional conducts in the handling of light weapons especially for a trigger-happy military.
“This, if not checked or mitigated, will breed further humanitarian crisis in an already distressed community. It is more so that the cry for additional security to safeguard and defend Benue communities in the middle of unprovoked attacks and killings fell on deaf ears.
“Had this amount of military presence attended to the farmers-herders crisis, the crisis would have been nipped in the bud and all human casualties prevented.
“We hereby call on the Federal government to stand down on the ongoing militarisation exercise and the possible arms and light weapons crisis.
“Benue communities have conducted themselves with commensurate decorum in the last elections which has made every military intimidation unwarranted. Nigeria remains committed to peace and peaceful elections,” she stated.