Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai was yesterday cautioned against dragging the military into politics.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which gave the counsel, urged the Army chief to refrain from acts or actions that could suggest in any way that the military has become an arm of a political party.
The opposition party faulted Buratai’s allusion to its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as well as his threats to officers and ranks to execute the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari on ballot box snatchers.
In a statement by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party describes the Army chief’s position as an aberration of the nation’s laws and a recipe for crisis.
The PDP said that Atiku’s call on the military not to obey unlawful directive was in order and reflected the wishes of Nigerians, as such, he cannot be intimidated by anybody no matter how highly placed.
The statement said: “Gen. Buratai is counselled to note that the loyalty of the military is to the state and that the President lacks the powers, under our laws, to deploy soldiers for the conduct of elections.
“Our party urges Gen. Buratai to concentrate on his very demanding assignment of protecting the territorial integrity of our nation and ending insurgency rather than dabbling into partisan politics at the risk of our national cohesion.
“It is imperative to state that by trying to drag the military to participate in the February 23 Presidential election, President Buhari plots to suspend our constitution, assume the position of an emperor, trigger unrest, subvert our electoral process and derail our democracy.
“The party directs President Buhari to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos on March 23, 2015, wherein the court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, directly outlawed the deployment of troops in the conduct of elections in our country.
“President Buhari should also avail himself of the subsisting judgment of the Court of Appeal, which on February 15, 2015, held that the President has no powers to deploy soldiers in the conduct of elections.
“The PDP further counsels President Buhari and Gen. Buratai to end their rationalising of military option, as the courts have summarily dismissed their arguments that soldiers are needed to guarantee peaceful elections.
“It may interest President Buhari to know that the judgment was sequel to a suit filed by the APC Leader in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, seeking a declaration that deployment of soldiers during elections is illegal and unconstitutional.
“In case, President Buhari is not aware, as usual, the court directly held that ‘the Armed Forces have no role in elections’ and if soldiers must vote, they must do so in their barracks.”
“In the said judgment, the court had said ‘the time has come for us to establish the culture of democratic rule in the country and to start to do the right thing particularly when it has to do with dealing with the electoral process, which is one of the pillars of democracy. In spite of the behaviour of the political class, we should by all means try to keep armed personnel and military from being a part and parcel of the electoral process. The state is obligated to confine the military to their very demanding assignment, especially in this time of insurgencies by keeping them out of elections’.
The PDP alleged that priming of the military ahead of the elections has heightened fears of plots by the governing APC to plunge the nation into crisis and use security forces to subjugate Nigerians.
It cautioned President Buhari not to use the military against innocent Nigerians. Source: The Nation