Buratai: We’ll treat electoral saboteurs as enemies of state
“The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai yesterday said those seeking to undermine the forthcoming general elections would be treated as enemies of Nigeria.
This is coming on the heels of remarks by President Muhammadu Buhari that he had instructed the military and the police to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers and thugs.
But the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar described the president’s order as unlawful which should not be obeyed by the military.
Speaking at the Army Headquarters in Abuja during a meeting with Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and Directors, Buratai also the army is bound to obey orders from constituted authority.
“It is unfortunate to hear persons who are aspiring to rule this country again inciting the army to disobedience. We have consistently stated our position in the political dispensation to remain neutral and apolitical,” he said, adding that “direct and public incitement of the Nigerian Military against democracy and constituted civil authority will not be tolerated, I request such persons to withdraw this inciting statement.”
Though the Army chief did not mention Atiku’s name, his comments were seen as a reply to the former vice president.
“The act of electoral thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes, illegal possession of elections materials and similar crimes are intended to mar an election and create deliberate avenues for post-election violence and mayhem.
“Such actions can also become more damaging when they are widespread, leading to destruction of lives and property,” Buratai said.
He added that “The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable, hence those who seek to undermine our democracy by interfering in our electoral process must be seen as enemies of Nigeria and dealt with appropriately.”
He said electoral sabotage in previous elections were often planned and orchestrated by politicians and the Army had been cautious in its approach. “However, This time around the Army will adopt a proactive posture that ensures that similar incidences do not even arise,” he said.
Loyalty must be 100% – Buratai
The COAS said two weeks ago, the officers held an Operations Conference to strategize on the 2019 general elections earlier slated to commence from February 16.
“Unfortunately, the election did not hold as planned and has been postponed to hold on 23 Feb 19 and 9 Mar 19. This shift in date has necessitated a need to review some of the decisions taken at the last conference and also to reiterate some of the directives Passed to you in light of the postponement of the elections,” he said.
According to him, “Our role is aptly captured in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and we must defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity as well as act in aid of civil authority when called upon to do so.
“The foundation of military professionalism is discipline and without discipline an army cannot stand. One of our core values is loyalty to constituted authority. Loyalty must be hundred per cent.
“I shall leave you in no doubt as to our resolve to bequeath a professionally responsive army to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Should any officer or soldier have doubts as to his loyalty to the Nigerian State as presently constituted, such a person has up to 22 February 2019 to resign. There is no room for indiscipline or disobedience to lawful orders in the NA today.
“In addition to my earlier directives to you in the last Operations Conference, I wish to lay emphasis on the following actions that all commanders are to abide by.
Commanders must deal decisively with any electoral crime or action that would be inimical to National Security.
“Commanders are to ensure that they and their personnel do not hobnob with politicians at any level.”
‘No military escort for politicians, retired officers’
Buratai said “there will be no military escort for any politician and all NA personnel are to stay clear of retired military officers especially those who are now politicians until after the elections.”
Daily Trust reports that many retired military officers have joined partisan politics. Only recently, over 70 former military administrators and officers endorsed President Buhari for reelection.
He said commanders must ensure they key into the Army Elections Security Monitoring Situation Room to send and receive near real-time information on events, as they occur in their Area of Responsibility.
“Commanders are to conduct extensive patrols within their Area of Responsibility. They must ensure that all flash points within the area are dominated.
“Commanders must in conjunction with the NPF enforce the restriction on movement within their Area of Responsibility.
“All vehicles must be searched and suspicious persons or vehicles arrested/impounded and later handed over to the NPF.
“I have laid emphasis on these few points to remind everyone that these are delicate times and the Nigerian Army must support Nigeria’s march towards enduring democracy,” Buratai said, adding that the Nigerian Army must continue to remain apolitical, professional and responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
Three feared killed in cult clash in Edo
Three persons were, yesterday, feared killed in renewed cult clashes in Benin, the Edo State capital.
It would be recalled that no fewer than three persons were reported to have been killed in a renewed cult clash on Tuesday in the state.
It was gathered that one God’spower Edobor, 19, was killed at Omozeghiam Street, off Okhoro road, in the early hours of Wednesday during a cult fight.
But a Benin-based radio station said two others were killed at different locations in the metropolis.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, who confirmed the killing of one person, said several arrests have been made in connection with the killings.
“We heard that a boy of 19 years old was killed around Okhoro area. So far, several deaths have been recorded, but I can’t give you the exact number now,” he said.
“Killings from clashes by rival cult groups have continued unabated in Edo State. The police are aware of it and adequate security measures have been put in place.
“Just yesterday, there was a joint security raiding of criminal hideouts and black spots. This raiding is geared towards making the state free of cult killings,” Nwabuzor said.
He added that the command was ready to deal with individuals or group of individuals that will cause a breach of the peace and tranquility enjoyed in the state.
Mother, daughter in police net for child theft in Anambra
The Anambra State Police Command has arrested a mother and her daughter for allegedly stealing a four-year-old girl in Onitsha.
According to a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Haruna Mohammed, on February 13, 2019 at about 5:20pm, police detectives attached to Awada Division arrested one Ngozi Ede, 42, and her daughter Kosiso Ede, 17, of No 4 Ukaegbu Junction, Awada for stealing a four-year-old girl.
He said the suspects conspired and stole the victim from the custody of her mother, one Nneka Ikoko of Mammy market, Army Barracks, Onitsha on February 10.
The PPRO stated that police further investigation led to the arrest of one Ifeoma Okeke, 45, who allegedly received the child from the suspects and handed her over to one Ifeoma Okonkwo in Eke Nkpor.
According to him, the sum of N250,000 suspected to be part of the proceeds of the illicit transaction has also been recovered as exhibit.
The case, he said, is still under investigation after which suspects would be charged to court.
Meanwhile, the stolen baby has been recovered in good condition and handed over to her mother.
Police arrest ‘notorious kidnapper’ in Katsina
The Katsina State Police Command says it has arrested a notorious member of a kidnap syndicate in the state.
This is contained in a statement signed by the command’s spokesman, SP Gambo Isah, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Katsina.
He said the suspect had threatened to kidnap a renowned businessman in Malumfashi if he failed to pay N2 million as ransom.
Isah said the suspect, Magaji Gudaji, aged 30, of Yandoka village in Dayi area of Malumfashi Local Government, was arrested five days ago after a tip-off.
The police spokesman said they recovered an Itel mobile phone with the SIM card used to commit the offence.
He added that a threat note written by the suspect to the victim was also recovered by the police.
According to him, the suspect had confessed to the commission of the crime.
The command spokesman said investigations were ongoing to arrest other members of the syndicate.(NAN)
Police parade 9 suspected cultists, robbers in Benue
The police in Benue State have paraded nine suspects for alleged involvement in cultism and armed robbery related activities.
The Commissioner of Police, Omololu Bishi, who paraded the suspects at the command headquarters in Makurdi, said the feat was achieved following the deployment of more patrol teams within the state to prevent criminals from perpetrating crime.
He said the suspects were arrested from various locations across the state with some of them engaging in armed robbery activities in addition to cultism.
“On February 10, this year, the ‘B’ Division patrol team while on routine patrol and based on intelligence gathered, arrested one Victor Egbodo and Udoh Emmanuel, both males of Kanshio in Makurdi, with one axe and a knife at a black spot behind Kids Authority in new Kanshio layout of Makurdi.
“During investigation, suspects confessed being members of System Black Movement (SBM) Confraternity. Suspects will soon be charged to court,” he said.
Bishi listed four other suspects as; Justice Agada, 25; Emmanuel Patrick, 21; Emmanuel Atoju, 19 and Stanley Ugochukwu, 20; all males of different addresses in Makurdi.
The police commissioner explained that the four suspects were arrested by his men on patrol in their hideouts along Onitsha Street in Wurukum area of Makurdi metropolis and that two locally fabricated pistols, two live cartridges, one knife and seven wraps of dried leaves suspected to be Indian hemp were recovered from them.
He added that preliminary investigation showed that the suspects belonged to various cult groups and were responsible for robbing members of the public of their money, phones handbags and other valuables.
Bishi further identified the remaining three suspects as, Johnson Ekoja, Emmanuel Ogiri and Anthony Ojela, as cultists who combined their offences with armed robbery in the Otukpo area of the state.
The CP said the trio was arrested in connection with a robbery incident that took place at No. 24, Jokpama Street in Otukpo where they robbed their victim of N275,000, one iPad and a Samsung phone.
He said the suspects’ victim was still lying in critical condition at the hospital. He further listed items recovered from the suspects to include, two locally made pistols, one cartridge, one live ammunition, knife and two phones belonging to their victims, adding that they would soon be charged to court.