Joe Effiong, Uyo,
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Nigerian Army of warming up to use force and rig the coming governorship and House of Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State for the APC.
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The 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Uyo, had on Saturday, begun what it called “Show of Force Parade,” ahead of the March 9, 2019 elections.
Major Bashir Jajira, Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, told newsmen that the parade to be conducted alongside sister security agencies like the police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, in 10 local government areas of the state, was to prepare the personnel to deal decisively with anyone involved in political thuggery, ballot-box snatching, arson, and other electoral offences.
But the PDP in the state said in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Ini Ememobong, that the show of force and the subsequent declaration of 10 local government areas as flash points by the Nigerian Army were veiled rigging plans for the APC.
“This plan we have learnt, was hatched after the failure of the army to effectively intervene at the Ikot Ekpene collation centre to save the Warsaw general and failed Senator Godswill Akpabio. This announcement is, therefore, a smokescreen to aid the army high command to deploy military personnel to aid in the hijack of election materials in favour of the APC.
“As a party, we are at a loss as to the foundation or basis for the declaration of those areas as flashpoints. It is common knowledge that no casualty was recorded in the last elections in Akwa Ibom State, unlike other states where scores of people were killed and maimed. We will like to remind the military that their primary duty is the protection of the territorial sovereignty of our country and not to take over civil policing, except in extreme circumstances, which elections do not fall within.
“We hereby, totally reject the proposed militarisation of our elections and refer them to the judgment in the case instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari, who then was the candidate of the APC in 2015 on the role of the military in elections.
“We again call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Army Operations and the entire army high command to direct the GOC 6 Division to immediately withdraw the over 30 soldiers attached to Obong Nsima Ekere, the 15 soldiers attached to Chief Godswill Akpabio and the eight soldiers attached to Senator Ita Enang.
“As an indication of complicity between the army and the APC currently in operation, it was the APC governorship candidate who posted the news, even before the army authorities pronounced it. The APC in Akwa Ibom has been boasting lately that, what the police under the ignoble watch of AIG Kimo could not do, the army will do.
“Our obvious reply is found in the scriptural proclamation, ‘who is he that says a thing and it comes to pass when the Lord has not commanded.’
“We plead with the army to desist from partisan politics and to remain professional in line with their rules of engagement, as this is the only guarantee for a thriving democracy. Superior officers should not become subject to politicians in expectation for favourable postings and appointments,” the PDP spokesman said.
He advised the soldiers who were preparing to be deployed, to brace up to meet with the divine army of God which would be on duty on that day to guide His people and protect them from harm.
“Our party like always will trust in the name of the Lord our God, who is able to do all things, while the opposition will, as usual, put their hopes in their horses, chariots, and soldiers federal might.
“We encourage all Akwa Ibom people to head out en-masse to their polling units and vote massively for the sustenance of the prevailing peace, the continuation of the prosperity and the comprehensive development that the Udom Emmanuel administration represents,” the statement said.