Ahead of the general elections,, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has directed immediate clampdown on activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) across the South East region.
The COAS said his directive followed the IPOB’s threat to disrupt the February 16, and March 2 elections.
This was as Buratai alerted of alleged plot by some “unpatriotic groups”, in cahoots with “foreign conspirators”, to undermine the forthcoming elections.
The Army Chief made the positions yesterday at an operations conference he had with General Officers Commanding (GOCs), and other field commanders, on strategies to ensure the sustainability of democracy.
It was against this backdrop, that Buratai noted: “However, the activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their splinter groups in the South Eastern part of the country is gaining momentum as the group is threatening to disrupt the 2019 electoral process.
“Their excesses must therefore be clamped down immediately”.
According to the COAS: “Our role in support of the nations’ democracy cannot be over-emphasized. Hence, this Conference will provide us the opportunity to review the conduct of Exercise Egwu Eke III and to appraise the preparations so far being made by various formations towards the smooth execution of Op Safe Conduct before, during and after the 2019 General Elections”.
In the meantime, the COAS has directed GOCs to deal with attempts to breach security before, during and after the elections.
He warned those with subversive tendencies, to have a rethink, as the Army will execute its constitutional mandate to the letter.
His words: “Let me at this point state that we have information of subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the 2019 General Elections in some parts of the country. We hereby warn such detractors to immediately mend their ways.
“The Nigerian Army is working closely with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure an enabling environment for the good citizens of our dear country to exercise their civic rights.
“In this regard, GOCs and field Commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.”
As part of measures to ensure officers and personnel.remained professional and apolitical during the polls, the tbree-star General has issued operational directives tagged “Operation Safe Conduct”.
The handbook is expected to guide officers and personnel’s conduct during the General Elections.
“Over the past one year, I have given very clear directives on the posture the Nigerian Army should adopt during the 2019 General Elections. The need for the NA to remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles has been stressed.
“All Nigerian Army personnel must remain neutral, non-partisan and transparent in all their actions. I need to reiterate that there will be zero-tolerance for any action and in-action by commanders at all levels that is deemed tilted towards giving undue advantage to any candidate, political party, ethnic or religious leanings to the detriment of the unity and integrity of Nigeria.
“This include knowingly or unknowingly receiving any form of inducement from politicians or other entities, be it public or private. GOCs and Field Commanders at all levels are to warn all officers and soldiers under their command to remain forthright and not in any way deviate from the professional ethics of the Nigerian Army.
“I have issued my operational directives for Operation Safe Conduct for the 2019 General Elections. The Nigerian Army has also produced a Code of Conduct Handbook for personnel to guide them during the Elections and copies have been distributed to all formations.
“You are to ensure that all personnel read and imbibe its contents and those deployed for Op Safe Conduct are to be issued a copy each. I urge you all to remind officers and soldiers under command to be guided by the stipulated Code of Conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties during the Elections”, Buratai stated.
He charged officers to avoid the misfortune some officers suffered, as a result of their conducts during the 2015 general elections.
Hear him: “We will all recall some of the events of the 2015 General Elections which subsequently led to the sad exit of some fine officers who were found culpable. I therefore enjoin you all to impress on your personnel to avoid a repeat of such occurrences”.
Meanwhile, the COAS has said that terrorists will be denied platform for propagating their wicked activities.
Consequently, he has ordered the Cyber warfare command, to cause disruption to their activities through counter-insurgency.
“One of the major issues we had in recent times is the management of information especially in the theatre which if not resolutely handled could jeopardize the successful conduct of our operations.
“To this effect, I have directed the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command to disrupt terrorists propaganda activities by embarking on robust counter narratives to neutralize efforts aimed at misleading and misrepresenting the situation on the ground”, he said.
On the meeting, Buratai said: “This conference comes at a time when the citizens of our great country will once again exercise their civic rights of electing their leaders through the electoral process. It is thus, important that we gather here to deliberate on how best the Nigerian Army can aptly support the Nation’s democratic process in line with its constitutional mandate.
“This task comes at a time when the Nigerian Army is still engaged in asymmetric operations across the country against terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements. The task before us therefore, is a critical one that requires effective balance of our expertise to efficiently utilize our manpower and resources to ensure that we meet the aspirations of Nigerians and indeed our great nation.
“The Conference will also afford us the opportunity to review recent events in Operation Lafiya Dole and deliberate on how best to address some of the operational, tactical and administrative lapses. It is expected that this Conference will proffer solutions to some of the challenges in the theatre of operation with a view to stimulating and driving added impetus to the overall conduct of the operation. I am glad to note that this Conference will also witness a presentation by the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command on our latest effort at adapting web-based technologies for monitoring the operating environment especially during the 2019 General Elections.”