ABUJA- As re-run elections into federal and state legislatures hold today in Rivers State, world leaders have joined President Muhammadu Buhari in calling for violence-free polls even as the army has deployed troops to protect oil facilities and other strategic locations in the state.
President Buhari warned that innocent blood should never be sacrificed on the altar of political contest for temporary power, saying the elections should not be seen as a do-or-die affair.
The president in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Adviser on media, Mr. Femi Adesina recalled that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike had more than once threatened officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, asking them to prepare their will should they come with an intention of rigging the elections against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.u
The President urged all political parties, their candidates, other stakeholders and the people of the state to ensure that the polls were conducted without rigging, violence and intimidation of opponents and electoral officials. He reminded politicians and their supporters in Rivers State to put the higher interest of the people of the state in mind, as they go to the polls.
“The rerun elections should not be seen as a do-or-die affair to the extent that people will be killed, maimed and property destroyed in a mindless display of crude primitive instincts. Innocent blood should never be sacrificed on the altar of political contest for temporary power,” Buhari stressed.
While calling on security and law enforcement agencies to exhibit professionalism and non-partisanship in the discharge of their constitutional duties even in the face of extreme provocations, President Buhari also directed them to deal decisively with trouble-makers and those bent on violating the sanctity of the electoral process. He also enjoined INEC to do all within its powers to give transparency and fairness to the electoral exercise in Rivers State.
The President restated the commitment of his administration to deepening democracy in the country by enthroning a legacy of respect for the wishes of the people through free, fair and credible elections devoid of intimidation and violence throughout the federation.
International community urges peaceful conduct
Similarly, the, Paul Arkwright of the British High Commission to Nigeria, , W. Stuart Symington United states Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Guaer, French Ambassador to Nigeria and Michael Arrion, Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria in a statement appealed to leaders of the various political parties to allow a smooth and violence free elections.
They said in the statement that, “We note with concern the rising tension in Rivers state ahead of elections on 10 December. We call on the leadership of all political parties and their supporters in Rivers state to allow elections to go ahead peacefully. We encourage INEC and the security forces to perform their duties responsibly and impartially. We urge all parties to respect the electoral process and raise any grievances peacefully and through official channels. We stress that the leaders of all parties are accountable for the actions of their members and we encourage them to urge their supporters not to use or incite violence”.
Troops get marching orders
Meanwhile, General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian army, Major General Kasimu Abdulkarim has deployed troops to protect oil facilities and other strategic locations ahead of the run elections which comes up today in Rivers state.
The army General also advised his soldiers to remain apolitical, adding that commanders of various troops deployed for the exercise should ensure their men conduct themselves professionally during and after the elections.
According to him,”While during the election, commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at flash points, key points and valuable points before, during and after the elections. Troops will be in their respective position by 3.00 a.m on election day while monitoring of security situation from the joint operations centre will commence two days before election.
“Commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at the outer perimeter of designated collation centres and polling booths in support of the Nigerian Police without getting directly involved with INEC activities. Similarly, commanders are to direct the conduct of patrols; establish checkpoints and roadblocks and provide escort during the election in order to prevent unlawful movements, ballot box snatching and sundry crimes. Also, commanders must ensure that troops deny unauthorized persons access to collation centres, INEC offices and NYSC officials during the election,” he said.