By Peter Uzoho
A former chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, has cautioned against deploying soldiers for the 2019 general elections which kicks off today with the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Speaking on Channels Television yesterday, Nwosu who chaired the electoral umpire from 1989 to 1993 stressed that the electorate might see soldiers and feel intimidated.
The professor of Political Science argued that even under the military regimes, the commission made use of police officers and not soldiers, adding that if all necessary party agents were involved in the elections, there would be no issue of ballot snatching.
He said: “There should be hitch-free movement of human beings that will conduct this election. Another thing is to secure the votes, count it before everyone, and the agent of each party having a copy.
“This question of ballot snatching shouldn’t arise if the agents of the two major parties – I believe the two main contestants are APC and PDP, if they have enough personnel to cover all the 120,000 polling centres all over Nigeria.
“Soldiers are not part of the process. They should not, it’s the police. People may see soldiers and feel intimidated. This is a point.”
He noted that throughout the elections the commission under him conducted, starting from “December 8, 1990 or December 14 for governorship, 1991; July 4, 1990 national assembly election, we use the police.”
He added: “And the presidential election of 1993, soldiers didn’t appear anywhere, soldiers are for external defense, so this is something we are doing for ourselves.”
Nwosu was appointed chairman of NEC in 1989 by the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, and he was credited for conducting the annulled 1993 presidential election which was widely adjudged the freest, fairest and most credible election in the country