Defence Headquarters

Expose politicians pressuring Army to compromise polls – Ex-Defence chief

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A former Chief of Training, Operations and Plans of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Ishola Williams (retd.), said on Friday that the Nigerian army had no business with elections in the country.

This is as he urged the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, to name politicians and political parties mounting pressure on the army to influence the outcome of the 2023 polls.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH in response to a statement by Irabor, Williams said, “The Army is not INEC. Therefore, they are not responsible for elections in Nigeria. So, it is very funny and nonsensical for the Chief of Defence Staff or whoever made the announcement to arrogate to themselves the outcome of any election at all.

“Is the Army the arbiter of elections in Nigeria? Are they following what is happening outside the country as in the case of former American President, Donald Trump, who was trying to get the Army to influence the elections in the United States after he lost to President (Joe) Biden? Has anyone called on the Army to take over?

“The army must not put itself in compromising situations. Therefore, the Chief of Defence Staff has to be right to make that statement that he made. It is illogical and totally uncalled for.

“Can he tell us who the individuals and political parties mounting pressure on him or who wants the election compromised? Why are they asking the Army to help them to rig the election? Why not the police?”

He further noted that the Army should not be involved in election security at all, noting that they should focus on protecting the nation’s sovereignty and fighting insurgents.

“Why is the Army even involved in election security? It is not their business at all. This is why no political party is allowed to do any campaign in any barrack. This means that soldiers can only vote, and that is where it stops.

“Is election war by Boko Haram? What is it that the police cannot handle that the Army is getting involved? Everything boils down to money and corruption. For the CDS to come out and say such a thing is disappointing,” he added.

Military denies claim

Meanwhile, the military high command has accused the media of twisting the comment of the Chief of Defence Staff, Major Lucky Irabor, to convey a ‘sinister meaning’.

Irabor was at the state house briefing where it was widely reported that the CDS said the military and other security agencies were under pressure to compromise the 2023 general elections.

But the Defence Headquarters in a statement on Friday by the Director, Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, said Irabor was misrepresented, stressing that neither the military nor other security agencies were under pressure to scuttle the election next year.

The statement partly read, “This impression was reportedly made during the 61st Session of the State House Briefing, which featured the Chief of Defence State on December 8, 2022. The Defence Headquarters however, wishes to say categorically that this impression is not only erroneous, but false and a deliberate or inadvertent attempt to twist what was said, to convey a sinister meaning.

“Already, ongoing military operations all over the country (in collaboration with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies), are creating enabling environment for electioneering campaigns to hold.

“These military operations will be escalated or re-calibrated when called upon to do so, to support the successful conduct of the 2023 elections. The Defence Headquarters, therefore, seriously frowns on misrepresentation of the military leadership at any forum at this critical time of our nationhood.”

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