Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
In a renewed bid to track election violence ahead of next Saturday’s election, the Nigerian Army Wednesday launched the 2019 Election Monitoring Situation Room which it said was configured for real-time monitoring of events during the general election.
Speaking in Abuja, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, said the situation room is a proactive measure designed to track potential violent activities during the election.
He said the situation room would track likely pre-election violence, violence during the election and post-election violence.
According to him, “It is pertinent to state that the post-election violence which characterised previous elections clearly highlights the challenges posed by incidents of electoral violence in the country. Hence, the army saw the need to devise new strategies of stemming such ugly tides or completely eliminating same.
“Lessons learnt from previous election violence witnessed have categorised the nature or types of violence into three broad categories namely: pre-election violence, violence during elections and post-election violence.
“Violence at the various phases of elections includes thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers or kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents as well as wanton destruction of lives and property respectively.”
The army chief noted that “having observed this cycle of violence reoccur severally in our past electioneering processes, the Nigerian army has thus deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture that would allow us to better respond to early signs of insecurity before they could escalate into a major security challenge.
“It is in this light that the army has launched Operation Safe Conduct and also gone ahead to establish this situation room for real-time monitoring.”
Buratai also deplored the issue of fake news and propaganda, both of which he said constitute a threat to democracy and military operations.
“At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous threat to both the democratic process and military operations.
“The use of media, especially social media, to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.
“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby having an influence on public sentiment as well as sow confusion among the electorate or even easily ignite violence during the period of the 2019 general election,” he said.