Following the killing of its personnel in Rivers State during the presidential and National Assembly elections in Rivers State, the Defence Headquarters has assured that the military will not carry out any reprisal attacks.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said at a media briefing in Abuja on Friday, calling on that politicians to ensure that there is absolute peace in their domains in today’s elections.
An officer and three soldiers were reportedly killed during the last elections.
Nwachukwu said the briefing was necessitated by the need to re-emphasise the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olonisakin that military personnel should carry out their right of voting the candidates of their choices within the ambit of the law.
Colonel Nwachukwu said: “I wish to welcome members of the Press to this media briefing on the forthcoming Gubernatorial, State House of Assembly and the FCT Area Councils elections.
“The Defence Headquarters wishes to use the opportunity provided by this press briefing to reiterate that the role of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in the on-going elections is to support the Nigeria Police in ensuring that Nigerians are able to perform their civic obligations in a peaceful and secured environment.
“Let me also add that this role is enshrined in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which stipulates that the AFN could be deployed to assist the Nigeria Police in maintenance of law and order during elections.
“In carrying out this onerous task, the AFN is guided by the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement (ROE) that have been provided for military personnel deployed to maintain security during elections.
“It is crucial to re-emphasize the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, that while military personnel have the right to perform their civic duty of voting as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they must approach their polling units in civilian clothings, devoid of any military accoutrements.
“Additionally, any military personnel who is not on election security duty found in military uniform on Election Day will be arrested and sanctioned in accordance with the military justice system.
“Likewise, all military Commanders have been tasked to ensure that sanity prevails in their respective Areas of Responsibility.
“These assigned tasks include arrest of anyone in military uniform who is not on election security duty on the Election Day. Likewise, any civilian caught in military uniform will be treated as an impostor.
“At this juncture, let me commiserate with the families of those who lost their lives during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections. It is imperative to state that no one deserves to lose his or her life during elections, be it personnel of security agencies, civilians, electoral officials or observers, both local and international.
“The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) therefore urges all politicians and their supporters to embrace peace and conduct themselves within the ambit of the law.
“Despite the unfortunate attacks on our personnel by political hoodlums during the last election, the AFN, as a professional and reputable institution, wishes to reassure the public that no reprisal attack will be carried out by any military personnel, Unit or Formation.
“We assure all Nigerians that in tandem with our mandate, we will continue to compliment and support the efforts of the Nigerian Police in ensuring that all law abiding citizens of this nation and members of the international community go about their legitimate duties and obligations in an environment devoid of violence and insecurity.
“The DHQ once again solicits the support and cooperation of all Nigerians and the media toward the sustenance of peace and security before, during and after the elections.
“We also enjoin members of the public to report any suspicious person or activities likely to undermine the security of our nation to security agencies for prompt action.”
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