11th March, 2019
WE SUPPORT MILITARY PRESENCE DURING ELECTIONS
Members of Nigeria’s main opposition party complained severally about the use of soldiers during the presidential and gubernatorial elections which ended yesterday.
Reacting to this development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization, defended the use of soldiers for elections in Nigeria. According to MURIC, the use of soldiers in Nigeria’s elections has become mandatory.
“There are two main reasons for which soldiers have to be used in elections these days. Firstly, Nigerian politicians and voters are yet to attain the level of sophistication of their counterparts in advanced countries. They are still neck-deep in bolekaja mentality. The average Nigerian politician wants to win either by the straights or by the bends. Our youth still allow themselves to be used for the snatching of ballot boxes and the intimidation of opponents.
“The death toll would have been higher while the pandemonium would have been worse had the government not deemed it wise to involve the military. It is paradoxical that the same wailers who complain of security lapses around the country are the first to object to the use of soldiers who are capable of reducing security breaches to their barest minimum.
“Secondly, the population of the Nigerian police is not sufficient to guarantee adequate security. With a population of 200 million, Nigeria cannot even boast of half a million policemen yet. The total number of our police force as at 2015 was 317,000. Two batches of recruitments have taken place since President Muhammadu Buhari took over. His predecessor did not even care. The United Nations recommended at least one policeman to every 448 persons. So Nigeria is still under-policed.
“Since Nigeria is yet to meet global best practices in terms of policing the entire landmass, soldiers have to be drafted in to make up for the deficit. But even this is not enough because our soldiers are already overstretched. They are virtually everywhere nowadays. They are in every spot where there is security threat: Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, South East and of course, the North East where they are keeping watchful eyes on Boko Haram insurgents. Yet the military’s total number may not be more than one-third of the total number of policemen!”
Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Director of MURIC who signed the statement which was dated Monday, 11th March, 2019, lamented the loss of lives in Saturday’s gubernatorial and state assembly elections.
“It is regrettable that Nigerians resorted to killing and maiming over the resolution of political issues. We condemn the killings and all forms of violence which occurred during this and other elections. It is callous, brutish and barbaric”.
Akintola also had an axe to grind with critics of military involvement in elections.
“Those who are now criticizing the Buhari regime for involving the military in the 2019 elections are either being insincere or they are suffering from collective amnesia. Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan invaded the State of Osun with thousands of hooded soldiers during the Osun election of 2014. He repeated the same thing in Ekiti and in the 2015 general elections. The same people who are crying wolf today applauded Jonathan’s use of soldiers. What goes around comes around.
“We are nonplussed that the opposition complains of intimidation today. Have they forgotten so soon? Have they forgotten how Jonathan used soldiers to out-Herod Herod in 2015? Soldiers were permanently stationed in front of Chief Bola Tinubu’s house at Bourdillon, Ikoyi during the 2015 elections. Lai Muhammed was arrested. The security aides of opposition governors were withdrawn by Jonathan.
“For appointing Sanusi Lamido as Emir of Kano which was within the rights and powers of the Kano State Government, Jonathan ordered security agents to lay siege at the Emir’s palace. For days, the Emir operated from the Kano State Government House.
“Jonathan withdrew the security details attached to then Governor Amaechi, grounded his plane forcing Amaechi to drive himself from Kano to Abuja.
Sitting Governors were prevented from reaching a part of the country to support the reelection of one of their own because they were in the opposition.
“Yet wailers have the effrontery to complain of deployment of soldiers to provide security during this 2019 elections. We contend that soldiers deployed in this 2019 election were there for security, unlike Jonathan’s soldiers who were used to rig election in Ekiti State. The indubitable evidence of Ekitigate is still in the archives. Jonathan’s soldiers also ambushed daily newspapers distributions. They were seized and destroyed without explanation.
MURIC also sought the understanding of Britain and other foreign governments on the issue of military’s involvement in election matters.
“We are appealing to our friends from outside Nigeria. There is a need to understand the peculiarities of nations and their behavioral patterns. Violence often accompanies elections in most African countries and the governments of these countries have to control it by inviting soldiers without necessarily having ulterior motives.
“On a final note, MURIC commends the professional conduct of soldiers and police personnel during the 2019 elections. We recommend the continued use of soldiers to maintain security during elections until Nigeria comes of age in terms of political maturity and self-sufficiency in security. Those who are wailing over the deployment of military personnel in the 2019 elections only need to turn the pages of history to 2014 and 2015”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)