The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, has vowed that the personnel of the Nigerian Army would resist all pressures from politicians to compromise the 2023 general elections.
He also dismissed a report by an international medium alleging that the Nigerian Army was ‘conducting a secret, systemic and illegal abortions in the North-east, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.’
Irabor made these comments yesterday during the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the presidential communication team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Responding to the call by the President on the Armed Forces to remain neutral in the conduct of the general elections, Irabor said, “The security agencies and the military constantly come under pressure to compromise elections through various financial inducements.
“We call on Nigerians to anchor their trust in the military as they will continue to strive to maintain neutrality”
Providing updates on the activities of the military, Irabor assured that “security personnel are being trained to follow the codified rules of engagement before, during and after the elections.”
The CDS, who admitted that he could not completely rule out internal sabotage within the security system, asserted that efforts were in to weed out bad eggs, to ensure efficiency.
“We have put in place all the necessary contingency plans to assist the police in the 2023 general elections as well as safeguard all critical national infrastructure.
“We remained apolitical and subject to the civil authorities as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have continued to appeal to our people that the security agencies, like all the apparatuses of state, are not anti-people.
“There is nothing like partisanship when you are talking about governance. Yes, during political campaigns, various political parties canvass for votes by selling their manifestos, but once a party wins and forms a government, it becomes a government of all of us. You don’t bring partisanship into governance,” Irabor said.
Responding to questions on the activities of some members of the Army who sabotage their efforts, Irabor said that there would always be bad eggs in every human organisation.
He admitted that some of the soldiers caught in such unwholesome practices have been arrested and disciplined for various offences, including divulging codified information to adversaries and stealing of ammunition.
He, however, said some of the saboteurs have not been executed because their offences were considered minor.
He warned that the military would not hesitate to apply the rules of capital punishment of death by firing squad if the saboteurs continue in their evil ways.
“We are not unaware of some extra-territorial interests who do not want us to live in peace,” he said.
Irabor also warned saboteurs in the armed forces that they risked stiffer penalties should they commit grave crimes that could attract death penalty as enshrined in the military rules.
Irabor however added that the military had improved on the process of recruitment into the army in order to prevent the engagement of criminals and renegades into the service.
Speaking on the allegation of mass abortions of babies fathered by terrorists in the North East by troops as claimed by a foreign medium, he confirmed that he was actually requested to respond to the allegation by the medium but he decided to ignore it because there was no such programme in the military.
Irabor said he carried the press along while he was in charge of the war theatre in the north-east between 2016 and 2017 by taking them to the hospitals where wounded soldiers were being treated, for them to have first-hand information on the reality of the terror war, adding that there was no way that the Nigerian Army would be involved in such a programme.
The CDS, while speaking on his achievements in office, revealed that security operations in the Niger Delta had helped to reduce crude oil theft in the region.
He disclosed that Nigeria lost about N1.9 trillion worth of crude oil to vandalisation, adding, however, that the situation has been contained.
Irabor also revealed that over 300,000 persons had been freed from the bandits and kidnappers by the military since 2016 while refugees who fled the northeast owing to insurgency had started to return to their ancestral lands.
He also disclosed that a total of 1,500 repentant Boko Haram activists had been rehabilitated, while 600 others were undergoing training.
Atiku Warns Politicians To Focus On Voters, Not Pressure Military
The Atiku/Okowa campaign council yesterday urged the military high command to ensure that its rank and file comply with the electoral law.
The campaign also warned politicians to focus on engaging the electorate rather than putting pressure on the military to compromise the electoral system.
The spokesman of the PDP campaign council, Kola Ologbodiyan, stated this while reacting to disclosure by the Chief of Defence Staff that the military is being put under pressure to compromise the forthcoming elections.
He said, “Our campaign urges the military hierarchy to ensure that the rank and file operate within the confines of the rules of carrying out the responsibility of internal security.
“What is important is for the military to guarantee a credible poll to our nation. They have the duty of protecting the territorial integrity of our nation and a duty of conformity with the laws.
“The politicians who are putting pressure on the military should go and engage the people who will vote; they should go and sell their promises if they will be bought by them; they should stop mounting pressure on the military; they should face the electorate.
“If you look at the political climate of our nation today, you will agree with me that the presidential candidate of our party, Atiku Abubakar, who is campaigning and also talking to Nigerians, is marketing policies, promises that he plans bring into his government when he is sworn in as president on May 29; as such we counsel other politicians to stop mounting pressure on the military,” he said.