Nigerians Army tells UK to mind its own business after accusations that it interfered with the electoral process

NIGERIAN Army commanders have warned the UK and other Western powers to desist from interfering in the country's domestic affairs after London accused the military of undue involvement in the recent Rivers State gubernatorial elections.


As Nigerians went to the polls last Saturday, Rivers State was the scene of a lot of violence as clashes between rival parties, the snatching of ballot boxes and altercations between voters and some men in uniform disrupted the exercise. In response to this, Inec suspended the collation of election results in Rivers State and it is expected that there will be supplementary polls in some constituencies.


Following the heavy militarisation of the state, the UK had condemned the heavy presence of soldiers, reminding the Nigerian Army that this is illegal and threatens the credibility of the elections. In a swift response, however, Col Sagir Musa, the Nigerian Army spokesman, said the allegation was baseless and untrue and capable of misleading unsuspected members of the public.


He advised that any allegation against the army must be confirmed from appropriate quarters before jumping to conclusions. According to the Nigerian Army, the statement by the UK was untrue, especially when there was no credible record of such involvement anywhere in Nigeria before, during and after the 2019 elections.


Col Musa said: “Foreign interests are enjoined to be mindful of interfering in our national internal affairs, especially when there is no credible evidence. Any allegation against the Nigerian Army must be confirmed from appropriate quarters before jumping to conclusions.


 “The Nigerian Army, as a responsible organisation, wishes to debunk such misrepresentation in order to set the record straight. Similarly, it is on record that the Nigerian Army has been globally applauded by many individuals, foreign and local elections observers for its sacrifices/roles in creating an enabling environment for a secure, transparent and peaceful conduct of the elections.


“The Nigerian Army has also drawn the attention of the public to mischievous activities of some selfish individuals who recruited thugs dressed in military uniform and armed them to harass and intimidate their opponents. In some cases, as reported and as indicated in various intelligence reports, hoodlums dressed in military fatigue snatched ballot boxes and other electoral materials."


He added that the army reiterates that it will remain apolitical, neutral and professional in the conduct of elections and in all its assigned roles across the nation in line with the directive of the chief of army staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai. According to Col Musa, the Nigerian Army has made it clear that its only interest and role in the entire electioneering processes is purely to assist civil authority and the Nigerian police to have a secure and peaceful conduct of the elections.


 “Already the chief of army staff has set-up a committee to investigate all complains relating to alleged professional misconduct by personnel in the conduct of the elections. Members of the public are further assured of the determination of the Nigerian Army to objectively carry out its constitutional duties, irrespective of the baseless accusations, especially from those who felt it has denied them freedom to illegally and selfishly subvert the choice of Nigerians," Col Musa added.