December 8, 2023

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Ballot Snatching, Electoral Violence Era Over-Army

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Anyone planning to run away with ballot boxes during next Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State should have a rethink, says the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa.


The CDS said this when he visited the state governor, Senator Douye Diri in Yenagoa.  He said the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states would be peaceful and credible in line with the directive of President,  Bola Tinubu.


Musa said he and his team were in the state to assess the security situation and’s to ensure that Bayelsa was secure and protected ahead of the November 11 election and warned anyone planning to perpetrate violence to steer clear of the elections in the three states and cautioned security agencies against acts that would compromise the polls.


“I have come with a very  powerful team. We want to ensure that the state is fully secure and well protected so that Bayelsa will continue to develop. As Bayelsa develops, l am sure the rest of the South-South will develop and Nigeria too.


“Last week, we held a meeting with the National Security Adviser, the INEC Chairman and other stakeholders on the need to conduct credible and peaceful election. For us, that is a marching order.


“Within us, if anybody wants to sabotage the election, l want to assure that all security agencies are going to be very watchful of our conduct. If any of the security agencies stains the election, it is going to stain all of us and we are not going to allow that. Prior to the election, a number of steps will be taken to ensure that everywhere is calm and everybody is allowed to come out and vote. The era where people will use violence to intimidate voters and snatch ballot boxes is gone.


“We want to warn those who think it is their birth right to perpetrate violence during elections that henceforth it is not going to be business as usual. Any member of the armed forces caught compromising the election risks a court-martial.


While receiving the CDS, Diri urged the military officers not to allow anybody or group of persons to engage in acts capable of undermining the electoral process.


He said: “Bayelsa is a flashpoint. So you have to do everything within your powers to ensure that we do not give room to those allegedly sewing military uniforms and plotting to impersonate military officers to undermine the election. As a government we will give you every support to ensure that we do not lose one life.”


Senator Diri, who also stressed the need to strengthen the country’s democracy, noted that all institutions, particularly the military, must collectively work to build viable democratic institutions.


“There are institutions that make democracy tick and one of them is the military.  Listening to you, we have hope that the military will be up to its task to make democracy stronger and much better in the coming years.”


He also admonished the political class not to take democracy and the people for granted. But to see themselves as having a duty to serve the interest of the people and not as masters.


“Whatever position we find ourselves in this democratic experiment, we must see ourselves as those who came to serve and not to be the masters.


“Since we assumed office, we have been preaching peace. So this election means so much to us and we will need the security agencies to be on top of their game. “

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