Being the text of a world Press Conference addressed by the coalition of civil society groups and election observers, on the ongoing militarisation of Nigeria’s general elections.
We welcome you to this crucial press conference, necessitated by our growing concerns, over the ongoing militarisation of various Nigerian States, ahead of next Saturday’s governorship and State Assembly elections.
As democrats and stakeholders in the Nigeria’s democratic process, we strongly feel obliged to draw the attention of the media, the Nigerian people and the international community, to the attempt being orchestrated mainly to intimidate, harass and build unnecessary tensions around an election process, which ordinarily should be a civil exercise.
While it is an undeniable fact, that our security agencies particularly the Nigerian police have played crucial roles in ensuring a peaceful conduct of our elections, we are worried that same cannot be said about the conduct of the military which ordinarily have no statutory obligation, during elections. We must all remember that emocracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and when security agents who are hitherto expected to be impartial and neutral, become openly partisan, demonstrating lack of integrity and acting blatantly as agents of political parties.
Recall that during the recently concluded Presidential elections, the media was awashed with reports of the ignoble conduct of the military in some parts of the country, mainly in the Niger delta region, where elections practically became war, leading to the death of over 30 people, including a personel of the Nigerian Army. The conduct of the military during that election and the heavy deployments of troops in states such as Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers raises serious question unto why such becomes necessary especially when the military have not only engage in partisan activities, but has also lack of capacities and knowledge of being impartial and competent to be involved in th conduct of a fair, free and credible election.
We have a duty to our country, to Nigerians and democracy, in ensuring that every elements that threatens our democratic growth are challenged and rejected as a matter of patriotism. We must not allow desperate politicians and their collaborators within the security agencies, to truncate this democracy. And when we find ourselves under such circumstance such as it is presently being witnessed, appropriate action must be taken not to allow our democracy to be derailed.
Let it be stated here again, that we reject in totality, the military siege on Delta, Akwa Ibom and other states in the Niger delta. It is not within the constitutional powers of the military to supritend over the conduct of elections. The military should immediately restrict itself to the mandate of providing support for the Nigerian police, as required by the relevant laws and guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. At no time has INEC demanded for military deployment in polling stations and collation centres, as the current military invasion clearly suggest. The sacrifices made by our people towards advancing democracy cannot be allowed to be desecrated by the desperation presently being witnessed.
We are calling on all ECOWAS, African Union and the United Nations to immediately prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari, to cease the ongoing hostilities against the people of Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and other States, presently under military hostages ahead of Saturday’s elections.
We also call on our people to remain peaceful in their conducts as they prepare to exercise their constitutional franchise on Saturday. We urge them to be steadfast and not be intimidated by anybody particularly the security agents, as we continue to demand that the military siege on the Niger delta is immediately halted.
We ask Nigerians and lovers of democracy to remain vigilant and be ready to ensure that the votes of our people count, as we struggle to defend our democracy. The price of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities.
Any attempt to derail this democracy will be too tragic for our nation to bear and we must all wake up to this reality.
We want the leadership of our security agencies, particularly the military to realise, that we are taking notes of all their actions and every deeds shall be accounted for. We shall not hesitate to further petition the International Criminal Court if there is any violation of the people’s rights, and we will begin to demand for measures which includes but not limited to denial and withdrawal of visas from whoever is involved in any violence that may emanate from this military invasion.
Finally, we urge Nigerians desist from any form of electoral violence, and support the Nigerian police in ensuring the sanctity of our elections on Saturday. We encourage the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to keep treading the path of professionalism, and uphold the rule of law.
This democracy is precious to us and we shall not allow anyone, no matter how highly placed, to derail it, on the altar of the ambition of a very few.
Long live Democracy,
Long Live Nigeria.