The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has expressed appreciation to the Nigerian military for its readiness to deploy troops for the March 28 and April 11 elections, but says its services will be better utilised in other pressing areas, especially in the combat of insurgency and protection of the territorial integrity of the country.
The organisation made its position known following the statement by Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that the military service chiefs were the ones who could answer questions on their availability for the March 28 presidential election.
In a press statement signed by Garba Shehu, it said the idea of having the military chiefs determine when elections would take place was a mockery of democracy, “because the military and democracy are not complementary and subjecting the fate of a democracy to the military is a coup against the people”.
Shehu called on INEC to take cognisance of the superior courts’ ruling on the role of the military in elections and the military’s own commitment of its readiness to deploy troops for the 2015 elections.
“The idea of placing the fate of democracy in the hands of the military is not only alien to the Nigerian constitution; extant judicial pronouncements have clearly stipulated that the military has no duty to play in the conduct of elections,” he said.
“We are not comfortable with any attempt to draft the military into election function and are reassured by the declaration by President Jonathan that the elections would hold as scheduled by INEC on March 28 and April 11.
“We have carefully studied positions made by the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, on the floor of the senate on Wednesday and we want to put it on record that we are not in any way comfortable with the idea that the military service chiefs will determine whether the March 28 date of the presidential election is feasible or not.
“The concepts of democracy and the military are never complementary, and to say that the military will determine when an election will hold is antithetical to the very idea of democracy. It is akin to a coup against the people of Nigeria to subject the fate of our democracy to the hands of a few military service chiefs.
“For the avoidance of any doubts, the APC presidential campaign organisation will not accept any attempt to subvert the electoral processes of democracy in the country.
“The Nigerian constitution is very clear about how the electoral processes in the country should be run and there is no single clause of the constitution that makes the military service chiefs to preside over the conduct of elections.
“Furthermore, there are extant judicial pronouncements specifically at two Courts of Appeal, the recent being that on the Ekiti governorship election that bars the military from undertaking any role whatsoever in the conduct of elections in the country. These are in addition to a similar pronouncement by the Supreme Court.
“The only role that the constitution assigns to the military is to protect the territorial integrity of the country and not to determine if and when an election should hold.
“As far as we are concerned at the APC presidential campaign organisation, we are ready for the elections on March 28 and April 11, and INEC is ready as confirmed by Professor Jega during the plenary of the Senate and Nigerians are also ready for the election.”