Ahead of today’s Gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections, foremost civil rights advocacy group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised alarm on the alleged plot to compromise the elections in Enugu state by the Labour Party using some top Generals in command positions in the Nigerian Army just as it called on the Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya to investigate and stop the professional misconduct.
HURIWA commended the Chief of Army Staff; Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya and Heads of other Security Agencies who publicly warned their troops against succumbing to pressure from politicians to compromise the elections, calling on the Army to operate within the confines of the law and stick to its standard operating procedure. HURIWA therefore stated that it expects the Army Chief of Staff to act decisively on this allegation in Enugu.
This call by HURIWA came on the heels of a report that the Enugu State Labour Party has perfected plans to use some serving military officers, as well as retired military and police personnel led allegedly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s son in the military; Brigadier-General Olugbemi Obasanjo whom they allegedly influenced his recent posting to Enugu as the Garrison Commander of the 44 Engineers Brigade of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, purposely to rig the governorship and state assembly elections in favour of Labour Party in Enugu North Senatorial zone. HURIWA said although it is just a mete allegation but it is appealing to the Army Chief of Staff to investigate the groundswell of allegations against the Garrison Commander.
Reportedly, a source in the military who pleaded anonymity disclosed that Obasanjo’s son is working with Rtd Major General Chika Ezugwu from Obukpa and Rtd Major General Chris Eze from Udenu LGA who are Labour Party members. In addition, other serving and retired military officers and police personnel allegedly working for Labour Party are presently harassing, bullying and intimidating PDP members in their homes and hotels in Nsukka ahead of today’s elections.
HURIWA in a Press Statement signed by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko decried the level of desperation by the Enugu Labour Party to win elections at all costs through military intimidations and harassment to get the result that they want.
Describing the claims as weighty, HURIWA further called on the Army Chief to probe the allegation that the Labour Party influenced the posting of a compromised list of security personnel to Enugu North Senatorial Zone for the sole purpose of rigging today’s Gubernatorial and House of assembly elections for the Labour Party in the zone.
Therefore, HURIWA urged all Generals holding command positions to follow the lead and the exemplary character of their Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya by demonstrating maturity and discipline just as the Rights group is calling on the Commanders in the field to call their men and officers to conduct themselves in manners that are in sync with the expectation of a larger Nigerian society.
“The Nigerian Army and other security agencies must comply with the rules of engagement, remain politically neutral by allowing everyone to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country. What we do not want happening is for anybody to take the law into his or her own hands.
“The Nigerian Army must give maximum support to all entities involved in this process and we are also calling on the National Leadership of the labour Party to call their lieutenants in Enugu to order. Anybody who is itching to undermine this process should please think again. It is not in his own interest; it is not in the interest of the nation as well,” HURIWA warned.
Besides, HURIWA’s Onwubiko noted that soldiers are to be confined to the barracks and put on alert during elections adding that there are enough agencies to handle security.
“Instead of terrorising voters, armed soldiers should be confined to their barracks and put on the alert. Since the Federal Government has restricted the movement of people throughout the country, the police, anti-graft agencies and paramilitary forces should be deployed by the Inspector-General of Police to maintain law and order during the 2023 General Election.
“Political gladiators should be reminded of the cautionary words of the Court of Appeal in Yussuf v Obasanjo (supra) that ‘it is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarised. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999’.”
“Those who prioritize winning the upcoming elections at all costs may not understand our concern for the survival of Nigeria and its people, which only stems from our patriotism.
“Unfortunately, there are unpatriotic individuals who are solely focused on their own selfish and narrow interests and do not care about the future of the country and its people.
“We have been pondering on what motivates those who plan to rig or scuttle today’s election especially in Enugu state habour,” HURIWA cautioned.