By Bako Johnson
The Nigerian Army (NA) yesterday during a joint media briefing by spokespersons of the armed forces of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police on the just concluded elections and the forthcoming supplementary elections in 23 March 2019 said it has set up a 9 man investigative committee to look into several reports of misconduct against its personnel.
According to the information made available at Information desk of the Defence Headquarters after the briefing, the 9-member investigative committee comprising senior military officers is headed by Major General Tari-Timiye Gagariga and is saddled with the duty to investigate all allegations of misconduct against NA personnel during the elections.
The briefing which was attended by Col. Sagir Musa, Army Spokesperson and ACP Frank Mba, police spokesperson saw the two security agencies reiterate their stand on synergizing for peaceful conduct of the remaining and forthcoming supplementary elections.
The details of the brief as read out goes thus: 1. I warmly welcome all members of the Press to this very important media briefing, which is a joint briefing by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and the Nigeria Police. The briefing is necessitated by the need to bring the general public up-to-date on our activities regarding the just concluded elections, and more importantly, to shed more light on certain security challenges witnessed during the elections, before the supplementary elections coming up on 23 March 2019.
2. There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police is the lead security agency tasked with the provision of security at the polls, while the military is to support the Police and other security agencies by providing security at the outer cordons, including check points and other flash points when called upon as provided in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended. In the elections, military services were undoubtedly requested by the INEC. It is also pertinent to state that, even before the actual elections, the AFN had been engaged with airlifting and ferrying of election materials and other essential logistics to requisite locations in the country as directed by INEC. Some of these areas could not have been easily accessible without the assistance of the military, while the police were massively deployed in providing security around the polling units, collation centres and all the inner cordons around the voting areas.
3. We are however, equally aware of some of the unfortunate security challenges witnessed during the elections which have generated public outcry and condemnation. The alleged involvement of some security agents in some of these unfortunate incidents is of serious concern to the military and police high commands.
4. While we appreciate the fact that some of these issues may be as a result of the overzealousness of some personnel, it is instructive to note that some of these incidents were instances of impersonation by political thugs clad in military and police uniforms. It would be recalled that sometime ago a container load of military uniforms and accoutrements was impounded by the Nigeria Customs Service along Aba-Port-Harcourt road, while similar interception was made at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal in Lagos. Also, prior to the elections there were intelligence reports of some politicians clandestinely procuring uniforms of security agencies for political thugs for the purpose of impersonating security personnel during the elections. This information was later corroborated with the arrest of several fake soldiers and fake policemen during the last elections. (Some of the fake soldiers and fake police men arrested could be seen as displayed on the screen).
5. Similarly, in Imo state, the military in a joint operation with the police arrested over 100 suspected political thugs who are now with the police undergoing investigation. The police with the support of the Nigerian military also arrested several political thugs and electoral offenders with several arms and ammunitions recovered. (Some of the images are displayed on the screen).
6. It is imperative to state that, not all of these impostors were apprehended by security agencies. Therefore, the Nigeria police, the military and other security agencies are working assiduously to fish out these criminal elements and bring them to book. We therefore appeal to the general public to volunteer useful information to aid security agencies in this regard.
7. We assure the general public that investigation is ongoing on security personnel who might have conducted themselves inappropriately during the last elections and appropriate sanctions will be meted out to those found culpable. However, it may be too early and too premature to apportion blames and out- rightly indict anyone or group before exhaustive investigations are concluded. Particularly we want to single out the alleged encroachment of INEC collation centre in Rivers State reportedly by some soldiers. This is considerably a very serious matter and of concern to the military as well as the police top hierarchy. Consequently, the military and the police high commands have ordered a thorough investigation of this incident and other isolated cases. Already, several of the video footages that are in circulation on social and online media platforms have been compiled to assist in the investigations.
8. It is also expedient to use this opportunity to address and allay fears from certain quarters that have criticized military deployment in some states of the federation during the elections. It is noteworthy to recall here, that the military had all along been deployed in some of those states due to ongoing Internal Security Operations. Such Operations include Operation DELTA SAFE in the Niger Delta, Operation WHIRL PUNCH in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states, Operation SAFE HAVEN in Plateau and Operation SHARAN DAJI in Zamfara and Kebbi states just to mention a few. Additionally, threat analysis conducted in those states prior to the elections identified them as flash points for electoral violence hence, the need for extra security deployment.
9. Furthermore, to ensure transparency and accountability in the conduct of Nigerian Army (NA) personnel deployed for election security duties during the 2019 elections, the NA has set up a 9-member investigative committee comprising senior military officers, headed by Major General Tari-Timiye Gagariga to investigate all allegations of misconduct against NA personnel during the elections. The committee’s Terms of Reference include thorough investigation of the reported activities, actions and inactions of personnel of the NA in all the States that contravene extant Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct in internal security operations duties during election. It is also to investigate all reported infractions or violations against security agencies, particularly the NA. We assure Nigerians that appropriate punitive measures will be applied to those found culpable in accordance with the military justice system.
10. In the interest of the general public, we want to seize this opportunity to assure that the military and the police are not at loggerhead as may have been erroneously portrayed. The two security agencies are working in synergy to guarantee peaceful and secure environment for all law abiding Nigerians to exercise their civic right of voting. In keeping to this mandate, we want to reiterate our joint commitment to the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming supplementary elections scheduled for 23 March 2019. While the support and cooperation of the media and the public is highly solicited, any person or group of persons who attempt to truncate the elections will be made to face the wrath of the law irrespective of status.
11. We cannot end this briefing without commiserating with the relations, friends and associates of some Nigerians both civilians and security agents who regrettably lost their lives during the last elections, as no election is worth the live of any Nigerian, be it security personnel or civilian. We pray for the repose of their souls.
FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH