Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has assured Nigerians that the armed forces would remain neutral, impartial and adhere strictly to the professional code of conduct before, during and after the general elections.
Similarly, the DHQ has warned military personnel who are not on essential duty not to appear in uniform during the elections, saying anyone who violates the order would be arrested and tried in accordance with military laws.
It has also sounded a warning to persons or group of persons who tries to constitute themselves into nuisance and disturb public peace on election days.
Director of Defence Information, Brigadier-General John Agim, who gave the warning at a joint media briefing in Abuja, said anyone found disrupting public peace would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land.
Agim, while noting that even though military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty to vote as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they must approach their polling units in mufti, devoid of any military accoutrement.
While assuring Nigerians of the determination of military to ensure the conduct of peaceful elections, he said: “In a few days’ time, the nation will be conducting the presidential election and elections into other key political offices in the country.
“It is on this note that the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to re-affirm its neutrality, impartiality and strict adherence to professional code of conduct before, during and after the general election.
“Therefore, we would like to reiterate that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will carry out its constitutional duties with zero tolerance to unprofessional conduct.
“No military personnel is expected to fraternise with political parties and associations.
“While it is pertinent to state that military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty to vote as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they must approach their polling units in mufti, devoid of any military accoutrement.
“Any military personnel who is not on essential duty found on military uniform on election day will be arrested and prosecuted, according to the military justice system.
‘Let me emphatically state that the Defence Headquarters has warned that all officers, soldiers, ratings, airmen and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces must remain neutral and exhibit exceptional professionalism before, during and after the upcoming elections.
“To this end, with the exception of those on essential duties, no military personnel should be found wearing uniform on the election days.
“Also, I want to re-assure the general public that the on-going Exercise Egwueke Eke III (Exercise Python Dance III) and other similar exercises in various parts of the country are not targeted at any particular set of people or groups, nor is it aimed at manipulating the electoral process.”