Barely two months to the 2019 General elections, the Nigerian Armed Forces have been admonished not to alienate themselves from the people so as to douse the growing fears that they were been positioned as instruments of election rigging.
The Chairman, South East Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, gave the charge on Friday when he received in audience the newly posted General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu, Major General Abubarkar Sadiq Maikobi, at the Government House, Abakaliki.
The Governor, who noted that the job of the army was not an easy one, especially with the lots of agitations ongoing in the country and the hovering uncertainties over the forthcoming elections, re-emphasized that the neutrality of the security forces was crucial for the continued existence of Nigeria.
He described as an act of timidity for anybody or group that has jurisdiction over people to avert interaction with the people and called on the new GOC to deploy his highly reputed godly nature and professionalism to cooperate with Government towards ensuring that a more serene environment was maintained in the South East before, during and after the general elections.
He maintained that God had already ordained who the winners of the elections would eventually be and cautioned the army against intimidating and harassing people on account of their privileges.
Umahi, who further maintained that most of the agitations of the recently proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra and some other groups in the zone were based on genuine complaints, however, stressed that their approach, which tantamount to insults and abuse of processes, were not acceptable.
On the third edition of the Operation Python Dance, for which the Army has chosen Ebonyi State as its operational headquarters, Umahi advised the GOC to ensure that his men play according to the rules.
He assured them of the support and cooperation of the Government and called on the citizens not to panic as the exercise was intended for their continued safety.
Umahi said: “Actually, your job is not an easy one, coming at a time when MASSOB in the South East are saying there will be no election, it is coming at a time that the society suspect the security agencies as an agent to rig elections, it is coming at a time there is so much crises with our neighbouring States.
“So the job is quite a very difficult one at a very difficult time.
“I have no doubt that you are a complete gentleman and very professional soldier who has succeeded in your carrier as an officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“So we must do everything possible to assure the masses of this country of the neutrality of the Security Agencies
“God Almighty has already ordained who will win the election, starting from the House of Assembly to Governor and so on and so forth.
“So, the role of man is not so much significant.
“One good thing about the 2019 election is that the law has provided that anybody participating in the election can be sued as a person
“This is very important so that everyone’s conduct must be moderated in line with the professional ethics
“Whether PDP is meeting with you in the day, in the night, or APC or any party, it does not matter.
“As long as I am concerned, what matters is to be professional.
“I don’t like agencies hiding from meeting the people, like the INEC we have here.
“What rubbish is that?
“You meet people because these are people you are supervising.
“But if somebody tells you to rig the election, say sorry, I will not
“It is act of timidity for anybody that has jurisdiction over people not to interact with the people and mix with them because when you do that you bring tension down and assure the person that you will be professional and that you are going to be very neutral.
“So, make yourself available to all the Parties and to the people and to the local authorities.”
The new GOC, in his remarks noted that he was in the State to pay respect to the Governor as part of tour of States under his divisional jurisdiction.
He assured that the Army under the watch of the present Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, would continue to remain neutral and committed to ensuring the sustenance of good relationship between the public and the Army.
He informed the Governor that Ebonyi State has been chosen by the Army as the South East operational headquarters for the ongoing 3rd phase of Operation Python Dance, codenamed: “Egwu Eke.”
Maikobi explained: “I am here also to formally inform you that as the chief security officer of the state that exercise Python Dance III was flagged off in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“The exercise is scheduled to take place from January 1 to February 28, 2019
“We have selected Ebonyi under your purposeful leadership as the location for the Step-up headquarters for the exercise.”
Born on June 6, 1966 and an indigene of Bauchi State, the new GOC is a graduate of the 35th regular Course of the Nigeria Defence Academy, who has held several sensitive posts in the Army.
He is the 33rd GOC of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.