2023 Elections and Security Forces Engagement
By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Nigerian military have since swung into action, thereby taking requisite steps aimed at averting emerging threats.
This is necessary to ensure the smooth conduct of electoral processes, across the nooks and crannies of the country.
It is not a new thing that some mischief makers and politicians capitalize on electioneering seasons to heat up the polity through calumny campaigns and other unwholesome practices, creating unnecessary public disorders.
However, it is gratifying now that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), and other security agencies including the Department of State Service (DSS), Police etc. are on top of their game towards ensuring peace and security across the country.
To that effect, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, recently read the riot act to politicians on the need to observe and maintain peace while conducting exercises related to the upcoming general elections.
He noted that they [politicians] must allow peace reign in the country by navigating away from actions and comments that can undermine national security as they engage in political campaigns.
Irabor said; “Nigeria belongs to us, now we are going into a season and everyone of us is desiring that we have a peaceful election and electioneering campaigns. I am glad that the President has told the Nation what his desires are but do not think that it is the responsibility of the government alone to ensure that we have a peaceful election.
“It is everyone of us that will ensure that we have a peaceful electioneering period so that we can have a country that we will all be proud of, if we don’t have a country there will be no position to aspire for.
“The most important thing regarding the election that is coming, is that we must be men and women that conduct ourselves peacefully and I need you to drive this message home to everyone that for anyone who is looking forward to be elected, he must do it within the ambit of the provisions of the law because we will not in anyway stand aside and see those perpetrating violence all because they are looking for political or appointive offices”.
He added: “Nigeria remains a nation that must live in peace so we must not allow criminals or thugs that have made themselves available for anyone to use, we will not allow it. We are standing by the Police to give them every support because going forward Nigeria must be peaceful.”
In the same vein, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen, Faruk Yahaya, disclosed that he had also approved new Rules of Engagement (RoE) and Code of Conduct document expected to govern operations and conduct of military personnel during the elections.
The army chief spoke at the opening ceremony of the Second Quarter Chief of Army Staff Conference 2022, in Abuja, where he harped on the need to ensure that army personnel were neutral during the polls necessitating the decision to review the rules of engagement. Thus, he warned officers and men of the army to remain apolitical during the cause of discharging their duties.
“At this juncture, let me hasten to remind us that the nation is currently preparing for general elections.
“All personnel must remain apolitical while providing an enabling and secured environment for electoral processes to thrive. In this regard, I directed the review of Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct for Operation Safe Conduct and the approved guidelines would be conveyed to you soon,” he said, while noting that the Nigerian Army would continue to enhance its civil-military relations efforts and provide the necessary support in aid of civil authority.
These giant strides by Nigeria’s military aimed at ensuring the security of the nation is apt and timely especially when looking at how non-state actors are using novel strategies in conducting various criminalities across the length and breadth of the country.
Security Forces across all institutions must work diligently in collaboration towards suppressing these heinous acts in order to restore normalcy to the bedeviled communities while at the same time averting its further escalation to new locations.
Just as always, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a government agency responsible for providing intelligence to the military should ensure the continuity of robust synergy within the military and other security architectures.
Similarly, the DSS should leave no stone unturned in their prominent role of gathering domestic intelligence and transmitting the same to sister security agencies which is very vital for curbing national security breaches.
Meanwhile, prompt reaction to actionable intelligence is very paramount which should not be treated with levity. Never!
May God grant us everlasting peace in Nigeria.
Mukhtar is a Staff Writer with the Emergency Digest.
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