- Military restates neutrality
- World praying for Nigeria, says Archbishop of Canterbury
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos
The United States Embassy has reiterated its support for fair, credible and peaceful polls in Nigeria as the general election begins on Saturday.
This is coming as the armed forces have assured Nigerians that it would support peaceful general election and urged voters to go out and exercise their franchise without fear.
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has assured that the world was praying for a peaceful, free and fair election in the country.
The US Consul General in Nigeria, John Bray, gave the assurance yesterday in the embassy’s twitter account @USEmbassyAbuja monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). The 2019 elections are slated to hold on February 16 and March 2.
The presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls will come up on March 2.
Bray, who tweeted in `Pidgin English’, said: “Saturday general elections inside Nigeria dey important to America and dem dey hope say di election go dey peaceful. I beg una election no be war o.” – Consul General F. John Bray.
“My pipo una well done o. My name na John Bray. I be di oga for America matta for Lagos. Election dis year na February 16.
“Make we comot for house, go vote man o, woman o cari your PVC go vote for di person wey dey your mind.
“All pipo I beg una election no be war o. No follow anybodi fight because of vote, no sale your vote go chop rice o, una dey hia. “God go bless Nigeria and God go bless America set join.’’
Meanwhile, the armed forces have assured Nigerians that it would support peaceful general election and urged voters to go out and exercise their franchise without fear.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, gave the assurance yesterday after he met with the service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, in closed door.
NAN reported that the Directors General, Department of State Services (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Chief of Intelligence Agency (CIA) attended the closed door meeting.
Olonisakin, who addressed journalists after the meeting, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari, had met with the service chiefs and made it clear that he was committed to free, fair and credible elections.
He said: “I wish to say that the Armed Forces of Nigeria are also committed to violence-free elections and that all Nigerians are able to carry out their civic responsibilities and vote for candidates of their choice without fear of molestation by any person or groups”. The CDS, however, said that the military was aware of plans to illegally use uniforms of military and paramilitary agencies to impersonate security personnel.
He also said they were aware of plans to use illegally acquired arms to intimidate and harass members of the public and other like acts to breach security.
Olonisakin, however, warned that the military and other security agencies would not tolerate any act likely to cause security breaches, before, during and after the exercise.He further warned that all such acts would be decisively dealt with.
He urged Nigerians to disregard the “stay- at- home’’ advice on the day of election in some parts of the country.
According to him, the “stay -home” leaflets being circulated and similar online messages are part of the handiwork of mischief makers, who are bent on scuttling the process and should be ignored. “I want to assure the public that the security agencies are prepared to support the police, to ensure safe conduct of the elections.’’
He maintained that the law enforcement agencies would remain apolitical, adding that a code of conduct for the armed forces had been issued to personnel deployed for the elections.
He said that personnel not deployed for election duty had been directed to “steer clear of the exercise, apart from exercising their rights to vote for candidates of their choice.’’
The CDS also warned that violators of restriction of movement on the day of election, no matter how highly placed will be arrested and detained, except those on essential duty and election observers.
NAN recalls that the Acting Director Defence Information, Brig-Gen. John Agim, had at a news conference told personnel, who want to exercise their franchise to do so in mufti.
In a related development, as Nigerians prepare to go to polls tomorrow to elect their new president and National Assembly members, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said the world was praying for a peaceful, free and fair election in the country.
In a Twitter post made in his verified account Thursday, he said, “around the world, we are praying with great hope for peaceful and fair elections in Nigeria, which build on the successful voting and calm transition in 2015.
“May God bless Nigerians in his power and may he bless this wonderful nation,” he said.
Earlier in October 2018, Welby, who is the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and the most senior bishop in the Church of England, had in Abuja, met Nigeria’s two leading presidential candidates, Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, where he called for peace during the coming general election.