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A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has passed a vote of confidence on the hierarchy of the Nigerian military regarding how professionally ethical they have so far conducted themselves depicting a huge amounts of commitments and patriotic zeal to defend constitutional democracy.

As preparations for election reached frenetic levels, shortly before INEC ‘annulled’ the conduct of the February 16th Presidential and National Assembly’s election six hours even before it started, the military authority had adopted a number of open; transparent and credible mechanisms to show that the institution of the Nigerian military was ready to carry out her duties in protection and defence of democracy. The Nigerian Army we think is resolute in it’s constitutional role as a major custodian of constitutional democracy and political stability. 

First, the military hierarchy openly launched the General Elections situation room in which all the segments of the military would converge to monitor the proceeding of the election and to monitor the conduct of their field soldiers.

The Nigeria Army on Wednesday last week inaugurated an election observation centre at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, to compliment Operation Safe Conduct also launched to ensure a peaceful 2019 general elections.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai while launching the situation room said it has been reconfigured for real-time monitoring of events during the 2019 General Elections.

He said post-election violence which characterized previous elections highlights the challenges posed by incidents of electoral violence in the country.

He said, “Lessons learnt from previous election violence witnessed have categorized the nature or types of violence into three broad categories namely: pre-election violence, violence during elections and post-election violence.”

He said violence at the various phases of elections include thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers or kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents and wanton destruction of lives and properties.

General Tukur Yusuf Buratai said having observed this cycle of violence reoccur severally in our past electioneering processes, the Nigerian Army (NA) has thus deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture that would allow us to better respond to early signs of insecurity before they could escalate into a major security challenge.

He said, “It is in this light that the NA has launched Operation Safe Conduct and also gone ahead to establish this situation room for real-time monitoring.”

The nation’s top military chief stated also that, “At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous threat to both the democratic process and military operations. The use of media, especially social media to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.”

“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby having an influence on public sentiment and sows confusion among the electorate or even easily ignites violence during the period of the 2019 general elections,” he added.

He said the Army through the Cyber Warfare Command has been engaged in monitoring, identifying and countering various forms of fake news and propaganda being put out by terrorists and subversive elements.

HURIWA must affirm without equivocation based on empirical proofs that the Army was also proactive in arresting fake soldiers who were deployed by some undisgruntled political urchins in Imo state and immediately handed these dubious thugs to the police for prosecution. 

This is to say the least, a clear demonstration of the will to protect constitutional democracy and ensure peaceful conduct of the polls.

HURIWA recalled that five Army officers suspected to be fake soldiers were last week paraded at the Imo State Police Command headquarters in Owerri.

The Commander, 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze Owerri, Brigade General H. I. Bature stated this during the signing of the peace accord by the Imo State governorship candidates ahead of the general elections.

He also said that two out of the five suspects were caught escorting a politician but the army commander did not mention the name of the politician said to be enjoying the security of the fake army officers.

Among the top governorship candidates who attended the peace accord/agreement ceremony were Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance, AA.

However, Ikedi Ohakim of the Accord Party, AP, and Ifeanyi Araraume of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, sent their running mates, Mrs. Ann Dozie and Steve Nwoga respectively.

On the arrest of the suspected fake Army officers whose names were not mentioned, the Army Commander said: “You can see, they are wearing the same uniform. You will find it difficult to differentiate them from myself. They are not soldiers. Unfortunately, two of them were caught escorting a politician.

“One of them, Kelvin is not anywhere close to a military formation. We have a way of identifying fake soldiers. The exhibits recovered are unbelievable. I want to sensitize our people that if you are in the habit of recruiting fake soldiers, we will arrest you.”

Gentlemen of the forth estate of the realm, you would vividly recall that there were claims by PDP guber candidate in Imo state about a powerful Imo state office holder used soldiers during a campaign rally which reportedly resulted in fatalities occasioned by fracas. 

Emeka Ihedioha had alleged that some soldiers killed some persons when the state governor Rochas Okorocha and APC senatorial flag bearer for Orlu was campaigning.

Rochas denied but the people of Imo state have told HURIWA that indeed there were skirmishes that led to killings by some persons during campaign in Orlu zone.

Pathetically, INEC and political actors of all hues have appeared to be the very elements bent on destabilizing the electoral process with the consequences of unleashing violence and disorder or provoking political instability or coup plot by undemocratic elements. 

We must restate that the current Heads of the military are thoroughbred professionals who respect the constitution. Our observations and interfaces have shown us an incredible amount of commitments on the part of the Nigerian Army for a peaceful, free and fair elections. They went as far as warning soldiers and police to stay out of polling centers when in uniforms or armed just as they are banned from parading about armed with political office holders during the elections proper. These are uncommon attributes of pragmatic commitments to stick to their statutory functions and remain apolitical.  HURIWA will in two days time also set up a HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING SITUATION ROOM TO COLLATE EVIDENCES OF ACTIVITIES OF THE MILITARY CLASS DURING THE RESCHEDULED ELECTIONS. 

Regrettably, officials and political players are trading blames and further exposing our nation to ridicule. INEC also confirmed that the procurement process for the election was fraudulently influenced.

Mahmood Yakubu, national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had confirmed that one of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a contractor to the commission.

Addressing stakeholders on the reason behind the postponement of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Abuja on Saturday, the INEC chairman said the contractor’s political inclination will not affect the commission. THIS IS A HUGE FALLACY AND THIS TELLS YOU THAT THE LEADERSHIP OF INEC ARE THE VERY SABOTEURS THAT ARE GAMBLING WITH NIGERIA’S POLITICAL STABILITY. THEY MUST BE NAMED, SHAMED; ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED SHOULD THEY ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE THE ELECTION PROCESS ANY FURTHER. ANY FURTHER POSTPONEMENT SHOULD BE TREATED AS A MILITARY COUP AND ALL THE OFFICIALS OF INEC then be arrested and tried for TREASON. 

Also, how can INEC AWARD CONTRACT FOR THE PVCS TO A CONTESTANT IN THE SAME ELECTION? There is no logical explanation for such a brazen act of political sabotage. 

As we learnt, the contractor in question is Mohammed Musa who is the APC’s candidate for the Niger east senatorial district seat.

“Yes, I am aware. That company has been working with the commission since 2011. I assure you that we have a strict system,” he responded to a question by Osita Chidoka, former aviation minister who represented Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at the meeting.

“No electoral officer will be compromised. The integrity of the process is protected.”

In an earlier statement released by the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, had said that Musa’s company, ‘Activate Technologies Limited’, was saddled with supplying the machines used in printing the permanent voter cards (PVCs).

“While Sani Musa has the right to hold any public office in spite of his line of business, it is morally unjustifiable to allow a well-known supplier of sensitive INEC materials to partake in an election in which the key materials to be used for the poll were supplied by him,” Atiku was quoted to have said in the statement.

INEC also blamed poor weather for the logistical nightmares that undermined the conduct of the polls on the originally schedules date of February 16th.

However, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Sunday said the country’s weather was good for flight operations on the eve of the elections, contradicting claims made by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Yakubu on Saturday blamed the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on bad weather which affected flight operations.

But speaking via his verified Twitter handle on Sunday, Sirika tweeted that INEC should say something else instead of using weather as an excuse.

The minister also stated that all airports were directed to open 24 hours during the election period and further gave thumbs-down to INEC in his tweets.

“INEC should say something else as weather was good for flight operations on the eve of elections, similarly all airports were directed to open 24 hours during the election period,” Sirika tweeted on Sunday.

However, the commission insisted that the weather was bad some days before the Election Day.

It said it did not claim that the weather was bad either on Saturday or Friday.

Spokesman for the electoral body, Mr. Oluwole  Osaze-Uzezi, who spoke with one of our correspondents, insisted that the commission was not lying.

He said, “Did we say weather was bad on Saturday or Friday? No, we said days before the election and we stand by that.”

GENTLEMEN AS YOU CAN SEE, THESE TRADING OF BLAMES SHOW A NATION WHOSE OFFICIALS ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE. THEY MUST BE TOLD IN CLEAR TERMS TO SIT UP OR THE MILLIONS OF NIGERIAN PATRIOTS SHOULD BEGIN NATIONWIDE PROTEST TO DEMAND EFFICIENCY AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM WHICH IS ABOUT TO BE JEOPARDIZED BY INEC AND POLITICAL CABALS. 

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