The Nigerian Army has handed out a three day ultimatum to soldiers and officers who have their loyalty to the Nigerian state in doubt to resign before February 22, 2019.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Turkur Buratai gave the ultimatum at an expanded weekly meeting with Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and some field commanders at the army headquarters in Abuja.
He said: “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 a hundred per cent.
“Should any officer or soldier have doubts as to his loyalty to the Nigerian State as presently constituted, such a person has up to Feb. 22, 2019, to resign.
“There is no room for indiscipline or disobedience to lawful orders in the Nigeria army today.’’
Buratai also said that the expanded meeting was to review security strategies put in place for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday.
He recalled that two weeks ago, the strategies were planned in a similar meeting until the elections were rescheduled to Saturday and March 9, from Feb. 16 and March 2.
The army chief decried some politicians’ reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari directive to security agents to deal ruthlessly with ballot box- snatching.
“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.
“However, 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.
“Let me re-emphasize loud and clear, that the Nigerian Army is a professional army,’’ he stated.
He, therefore, ordered commanders to deal decisively with any electoral crime or action that could be inimical to national security.
Buratai further directed them to ensure that they and personnel under them did not hobnob with politicians.
“In this regard, there will be no military escort for any politician and all Nigerian army personnel are to stay clear of retired military officers, especially those who are now politicians until after the elections.
“Commanders are to conduct extensive patrols within their Area of Responsibilities (AORs).
“They must ensure that all flash points within the area are dominated.
“Commanders must, in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Force, enforce the restriction on movement within their Area of Responsibilities (AORs).
“All vehicles must be searched and suspicious persons or vehicles arrested/impounded and later handed over to the police,’’ he said.
According to Buratai, 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.
He said that such actions could also become more damaging when they are widespread, leading to the destruction of lives and property.
Buratai noted that such incidents in past elections were often planned and orchestrated by politicians, but said that the army had hitherto been cautious in its approach.