The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday refused to speak on the militarisation of the 2019 polls, particularly the alleged interference by the Nigerian Army in elections in some states.
Excessive force was said to have been used by the army in some states, including Rivers, during the presidential/National Assembly polls and the governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari had met with Buratai and other security chiefs in Abuja on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s supplementary elections in six states.
However, as the COAS emerged from the meeting, he refused to answer questions on the role of his men during the polls.
Instead, he directed State House correspondents to the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu.
When reporters turned to the IG, the police chief too kept sealed lips.
He merely said there would be no formal briefing on any issues.
But The PUNCH learnt that aside from security arrangements for Saturday’s polls and the general security situation in the country, the meeting also looked into the raging violence in Kaduna State.
Apart from Buhari and the IG, other security chiefs who attended the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique.
The attendees also included the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.); Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (retd.); Minister of Interior, Gen Abdulrahaman Dambazau (retd.); Director-General of Department for State Service, Yusuf Magaji-Bichi; and the Director-General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar.
Meanwhile, Zamfara State Governor, Mr Abdulaziz Yari, has said his administration has no plan to dialogue with the bandits attacking and killing innocent villagers in the state.
According to him, the bandits are more equipped than the Nigerian soldiers and policemen.
He added that what was needed was a coordinated show of force to flush the killers out of the state permanently.
Yari spoke with journalists shortly after meeting with Buhari in company with his Katsina State counterpart, Mr Aminu Masari.
Yari said, “I have told my people that that (dialogue) will no longer take place during my time because I have done that three times but it did not work.
“They are in control of the types of weapons that the police command in Zamfara State does not have. In one armoury alone, they have over 500 AK-47 rifles; we saw them. Our people were even given the chance to take pictures.
“That is why I said there has to be a show of force before anything else. I know that in any war, eventually, you have to come to the table and dialogue but the situation we are right now, sincerely speaking, dialogue is not needed at this point in time.”
In a related development, the House of Representatives faulted the deployment of the military during the 2019 general elections without the approval of the National Assembly.
The chamber resolved to set up a panel to investigate the activities of soldiers in the elections.
At the plenary on Tuesday, the House adopted a motion moved by a member, Mr Patrick Asadu, entitled, ‘The Alleged Illegal Deployment, Use, Misuse and Abuse of Soldiers of the Nigerian Army During the 2019 (General Elections) and Other Elections against the Express Provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Armed Forces Act and Valid Subsisting Judgments of the Various Courts of Competent Jurisdiction.’
The motion, which was unanimously adopted, prayed the lawmakers to observe a one-minute silence “in honour of innocent Nigerians who lost their lives in the course of the 2019 general elections and sympathise with all those who suffered injuries or sustained avoidable material losses.”
The chamber also resolved to, “As a matter of urgency set up a high-powered ad hoc committee to carry out a holistic, detailed, comprehensive and far-reaching investigation of the deployment, use, misuse and abuse of the soldiers of the Nigerian Army in the 2019 elections and other elections, and make adequate recommendations to the House within four weeks.”