Show of force to scare ballot box snatchers, support Nigeria’s democracy: Army

The Nigeria Army says it has begun mobilising troops to provide security during the November 11 governorship and state house of assembly elections in Bayelsa.

Maj.-Gen. Jamal Abdussalam, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division of the Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, stated this in a statement by the division’s spokesman, Maj. Danjuma Danjuma on Tuesday.

Mr Abdussalam announced the mobilisation while addressing troops and members of other security agencies participating in a special military exercise tagged ‘Exercise Safe Conduct 2023’.

Mr Abdussalam said the mobilisation of troops for the election was aimed at creating an enabling environment for the smooth conduct of elections in Bayelsa.

“We are doing this to ensure the good people of Bayelsa state come out in their numbers to vote for candidates of their choice without any fear of intimidation. This is one of the ways the Nigerian Army will support democracy to thrive in Nigeria,” Mr Abdussalam explained.

He added, “We must ensure that everywhere is safe and people see sufficiently that we are fully on the ground to boost public confidence in the electoral process.”

The army officer said the troops were adequately briefed on the subsisting ‘Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement’ before, during and after the elections.

“To this end, personnel must conduct themselves in the most professional manner, as no form of complacency will be tolerated at all levels. No stone will be left unturned in dealing decisively with any individual or group whose stock in trade is to cause mayhem or snatch ballot boxes during the elections,” the army officer said.

Mr Abdussalam added, “If the troublemakers feel they have two heads, then they must make ready the second head because the first head will surely be taken off.”

The general also mentioned that the era of snatching and stuffing ballot boxes and other forms of electoral frauds were gone, as adequate arrangements have been put in place to deal decisively with defaulters.

He said the army would, in the coming days, launch an operation to identify, isolate and deal with political thugs hired to disrupt the smooth conduct of the November 11 elections.

According to him, the army has also identified flash points used by political thugs to deny the electorate access to exercise their franchise during elections freely.

“Those thinking along that line should bury their thoughts because the security forces will go all out to ensure the election is conducted in a peaceful manner,” said Mr Abdussalam. “Hence, I am pleased with the level of synergy that exists between the Nigeria Army and sister services that culminated in a joint route march and show of force in Yenagoa and environs.”

He noted that the “show of force essentially sends a clear message to those who are bent on causing trouble before, during and after the poll, to have a rethink.”

Bayelsa is among states that have always recorded electoral violence and snatching of ballot boxes by alleged sponsored political thugs in previous elections.

The election would be a close call between incumbent Governor Douye Diri of the PDP, seeking a second term in office and his closest challenger, former Governor Timipre Sylva of the APC.