A socio-political organisation, Social Rehabilitation Gruppe (SRG) has condemned Federal Government’s deployment of military troops to Nigerian cities ahead of Saturday’s general elections, describing it as “unnecessary overkill, sheer intimidation and an anti-democratic move”.
In a statement by the SRG Convener/National Coordinator, Dr. Marindoti Oludare, the group demurred, saying the action had only portrayed Nigeria before the international community as a society at war with itself.
It said the President had erred “in this anti-democratic decision” and that the court should hold him responsible once his immunity is over.
“We view with concern, the deployment of military troops to cities in the different states of the federation as if the states are war zones.
“Yes, Nigeria is set for a major election and requires utmost security arrangement to make the people perform their civic duties, but bringing troops, armoured tanks and other weapons of war for that purpose is unnecessary overkill and an anti-democratic move.
“It also runs foul against the spirit and letter of federalism which Nigeria professes to practise. Ideally for any federal system, an agreement has to be reached between the President and the Governor of a state before troops can be deployed in that state.
“But in the Nigerian situation, reverse is the case as the federal organ of government keeps bullying the state administrations, thus portraying us before the international al community as a society at war with itself”.
The group particularly remonstrated at the level of civil intimidation in the country, warning that briging in military personnel into the country’s democracy only puts the the nation on reverse gear.
“We are to rule by the power of our example not the example of our powers. The rascal actions of the federal government deploying the military that should be deployed against criminal elements like the Boko Haram is reprehensible and we implore the courts to hold the President accountable when his tenure is over.
“Now, soldiers are on the streets of our major cities, parading military tanks as if we are under martial law,” it further lamented.
The SRG thus expressed the conviction that given the training received by the interior security formations like the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Civil Defence Corps, they should be able to maintain peace and order on election day, while the military should be left to its traditional role of protecting the country’s territorial integrity.
“We crave for a Nigerian society where things are done the right way and not upside down. By briging our soldiers to be guarding election exercise is tantamount to making a dog eat grass as against meat or bone.
“If well equipped and motivated, the Police, the Civil Defence Corps, and the DSS can ensure adequate security during elections, to enable the military focus on their traditional role of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity,” the group appraised.
In the same vein, the SRG urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to discharge its role creditably by being an unbiased umpire, noting that all eyes are on Nigeria.
It also appealed to the citizenry to come out en mass and vote for candidates of their choice, stressing that electoral apathy can only translate to leadership oppression; “as only the cronies of incompetent candidates will register their presence on election day”.