Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
After three hours closed door meeting President Muhammadu Buhari had with service chiefs and other heads of security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, none of those present agreed to brief on what transpired.
Unlike previous meetings where acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, will on this own walk into the Council Chambers briefing room to speak on what transpired and decisions taken, this time around, the chief chiefs engaged in buck passing.
Those in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique.
Others were the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali, Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahaman Dambazau, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director General of Department for State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau and the Minister of Defence, Brigadier Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali were also part of the meeting.
When approached to react to allegation by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that army’s role in Rivers State led to the disruption of the electoral process, Buratai, who would usually speak to the press, kept smiling and said, “wait for the IG.”
When approached, the IG also smiled and said: “Officially, there is no briefing.”
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had in a statement condemned what it described as the unwholesome role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State which it said led to the disruption of the electoral process.
INEC said the action was an attempt to subvert the will of the people.
The electoral body said this was part of the submissions made after the Commission set up a fact-finding committee to assess the situation in the state.
Following reports of widespread violence and other forms of intimidation, collation of results and other activities for the governorship and House of Assembly elections were suspended on March 10.
In the run up to the elections, Governor Nyesom Wike had consistently accused the army of bias and being used to interfere in the state’s politics and ultimately influence the outcome of elections in the state.
At a time, the governor alleged that soldiers from 6 Division, Nigerian Army, trailed him in Port Harcourt while on his way to see some people, with the intention of assassinating him.
The allegation was, however, dismissed by the army.
In a statement, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu described the claim as “lies and cheap blackmail against the 6 Division, Nigerian Army.”
While the collation of the March 9 Governorship and House of Assembly elections was underway, soldiers and policemen clashed at the INEC Collation Centre, an incident that ultimately hampered the collation exercise, in addition to other infractions recorded at various polling units. This prompted INEC to suspend the electoral processes in the state.
The United States-Nigeria Law Group, an election observer initiative, on Monday released a damning election assessment report, where it clearly stated that most of the issues that troubled the 2019 general election were deliberately contrived to assist the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to retain power at the centre.
The group posited that while the electorate prepared for elections, it was as though the ruling party was “preparing a military operation.”
The group said it observed conscious efforts to compromise the elections and raised early warnings as well as concerns, which have now been validated and proven by the resulting self-sabotaged elections.