Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, yesterday denied allegations that he summoned a meeting of senior officers where he directed them to work for the victory of President Mohammadu Buhari in last Saturday’s presidential election.
The denial followed allegations that senior officers who attended the meeting allegedly refused to carry out the “illegal orders”.
The army chief, who spoke in Abuja, said that while he had a meeting with senior officers before the election, it was for the purpose of ensuring the successful conduct of the election.
“It is glaring that those who are determined to denigrate the office and person of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Nigerian Army (NA) are terribly bent on going to any length to arm-twist or trivialise whatever he does or says in the course of official engagements.
“The major allegation in the publication is that – ‘there is disquiet within the top echelon of the army following an emergency meeting summoned by COAS to appeal to senior army officers to work towards the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari for the February 23, 2019 Presidential election”, a statement issued by the army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said.
The statement further said: “for the fact that there is possibility of some to believe this baseless allegation, the NA wouldn’t have to join issues with politically interested cyber warfare blackmailers. Therefore, on the basis of this claim, the need to provide an explanation becomes imperative.”
“For the record, it was true, as was widely covered and reported by the media, that the COAS had a meeting with Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs), directors and selected field commanders on February 20, 2019 where he clearly directed them to adopt a proactive and decisive posture that will ensure creation of a conducive environment for the peaceful conduct of 2019 elections.
“He ordered them and indeed all NA personnel to avoid fraternising with politicians and decisively deal with criminal acts such as electoral thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, illegal possession of elections materials and other crimes that are intended to mar the election and create an avenue for post-election violence in Nigeria.
“All he said was contained in his address to the officers, was equally recorded and broadcasted by the trio of print, broadcast and social media platforms and is therefore laughable and disingenuous for one to twist his directives to – or – for mere political opportunism.
‘This claim is coming at a time when the NA in collaboration with other security agencies are working hard to ensure a secure, transparent and credible 2019 general election in Nigeria is therefore quite worrisome”.