ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The Defence Headquarters has vowed to resist anything that would truncate democracy, ahead of the 29 May, 2023 handover.
The Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, stated this in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja.
He said Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, has threatened to crack down on potential threat to national security and warned the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network and other fringe groups not to test the will of the military.
Gusau said the peaceful conduct of the general elections despite the insecurity engineered by the outlawed groups was a testament to the military’s resolve to ensure security across the country.
The military spoke against the background of the security crisis that preceded the election in parts of the country and the recent agitation for interim national government by some groups dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential election won by the All Progressives Congress (APC), candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Citing the violence and other malpractices that allegedly characterized the polls, the groups were insisting that Tinubu should not be sworn in on 29 May, noting that an interim government should be put in place instead.
Reacting to further questions on if the military would collaborate with the DSS to thwart the plans of the identified plotters of ING, the defence spokesman said: “We are ready to protect democracy. The CDS (the Chief of Defence Staff) has stated this severally. We will not do anything that would truncate democracy in the country”.
On his part, the chief of army staff while addressing the participants at the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference at the Command Officers’ Mess, Abuja, said nobody should threaten the integrity of Nigeria or attempt to truncate democracy in the country.
He said: “The peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections across the country including in the South-East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region, is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.
“Let me state here that elections or no elections, neither IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) , ESN (Eastern Security Network) nor any other group, groups or individuals should threaten the integrity of this nation as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’
Speaking further, the COAS commended the army for its adherence to the guidelines and implementation of the decisions taken at the 2022 conference “as evident in our professional conduct and apolitical disposition during the just concluded general elections.
“Your strict adherence to my directives and guidance in this respect is quite commendable. The efforts by the Army Headquarters to go around formations to deliver lectures on introspection of past experiences and efforts at improving NA support to operation safe conduct 2023 are also noted to have yielded desired outcomes.
“I am proud to say that various groups, organisations and distinguished individuals have commended our troops’ efforts during the 2023 general elections.
“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country. Generally, our operations and decisive actions against the criminal elements have impacted positively the security situation in the region, giving confidence to law-abiding citizens in the South-East.
“The peaceful conduct of general elections across the country including in the South East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.’’
Noting the various operations and inter-service activities which helped in bringing the security crisis under control, the COAS said: “This was made possible through the successful conduct of ‘Operation Safe Conduct 2023’ across the nation which saw the Nigerian Army along with the other Services and Agencies ensuring successful general elections.
“Our additional efforts through Joint Task Force ‘Operation Udoka’ paid off in the South-East thus ensuring successful Elections in the region as well, even though, long before the actual elections, IPOB/ESN and their supporters had threatened that there would be no elections in the Zone.
“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country.”
Efforts to get IPOB’s reaction did not succeed as of the time of filling this report at 10pm on Monday.