Edo Elections: COAS, NSA Not Comfortable With Deployment Of Solders; Warns Jonathan.
July 9, 2012 in Nigerian Current Affairs
To underline its readiness for next Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, men of the 4 Brigade Nigeria Army yesterday embarked on a road show in full war regalia, driving through streets of Benin City and other major towns in the state in an operation codenamed “Show of Force”.
The exercise is a follow-up to the deployment of 3,500 troops on Friday as announced by the Commander of the 4 Brigade, Brigadier-General Abel Umahi. The movement of the soldiers into the state for the elections is, however, said to be causing disquiet among security chiefs.
Umahi had told journalists that the deployment was part of the decisions taken by Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika to ensure the election was peaceful.
But reliable sources told The Nation on Sunday that Ihejirika was not very comfortable with the deployments as he didn’t want to be sucked into a political tug-of-war. For his part, newly-appointed National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, is said to have warned about the security implications of the deployments, and pointedly said he didn’t want any part of it.
It was gathered that the troops deployed in Edo were sourced from within and from neighbouring states. The 195 Battalion stationed in Agenegbode is to be reinforced with a company of troops – about 120 from all ranks – from 3 Battalion based in Warri, Delta State. They will also be joined by about 120 soldiers of different ranks culled from 19 Battalion, Okitipupa. These soldiers will focus on different local governments in the State bar seven critical ones.
To take of care of these crucial seven local governments are troops deployed from 4 Brigade Garrison/Nigerian Army School of Supply and Transport, Benin-City. They will be joined by elements of the 322 Artillery Regiment, Ekenwan, Benin-City.
Commander of the 4 Brigade, Brigadier-General Umahi, has however, dismissed insinuations that the deployment of soldiers for the election was at the instance of either Governor Adams Oshiomhole or the PDP candidate, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere (retd) who are leading candidates in the election.
Umahi explained that the “Show of Force” exercise was simply to announce their readiness to enforce law and order and to deliver on President Goodlock Jonathan’s promise to ensure free, fair and credible election in the state.
He noted that more attention will be concentrated in Edo South senatorial district because of its nature, adding that other security agencies are expected to participate in the pre-election activities.
He said the “Show of Force” was to reassure residents in the state that adequate security has been provided for them to cast their votes without fear.
According to him, “The military is here to do a job of restoring order in Edo State to ensure free, fair and credible election. The soldiers are not at the instance of anybody.
“Remember that before the President came here the other time, he had called the service chiefs and they assured him that there would be peace and tranquility to ensure democracy in this governorship election in Edo State. That is exactly what we are doing to give teeth to the words of Mr. President.
“We want to also warn miscreants to be very far from Edo State otherwise, they will get exactly the trouble they are looking for.”
Investigations have revealed that the PDP aims to execute a three-pronged strategy for Election Day in order to secure an upset victory. At the heart of the plan is vote suppression, voter intimidation and the use of thugs to disrupt voting in critical areas.
Sources told The Nation during the week that in order to stoke up tension, and frighten voters from the polling booths next Saturday, the PDP aims to turn the state into a virtual war zone through deployment and re-deployment of key army formations and personnel in Edo and surrounding states.
These soldiers will be placed in charge of seven critical local government areas especially in Edo South where the quantum of votes cast could determine the outcome. The calculation is that combat-ready troops driving around in tanks would frighten potential voters and cause them to remain indoors thereby disenfranchising a large number. Depressed voter turnout in the Edo South senatorial district would then be counteracted by normal voter turnout in Edo Central where the PDP retains a measure of support.
In Oshiomhole’s home local government area, Etsako West, and three others, the plan is to deploy thugs to unleash pre-programmed violence that will disrupt the voting process. Going by precedence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would then be forced to cancel whatever results emerge from the governor’s stronghold if the mayhem scenario actually plays out.
via Osun Defender