Abayomi Olonisakin, chief of defence staff (CDS), has justified the military involvement in the 2019 general election, saying it was part of their constitutional duties.
Olonisakin made this known at the ongoing orientation programme for senators-elect and members of the house of representatives-elect in Abuja on Thursday.
The military involvement in the elections had been widely criticised as unconstitutional and a wrong move to scare voters away from participating in the electoral process.
In Rivers, for instance, soldiers ended up disrupting the collation, forcing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the process.
The electoral body had also said soldiers have no business with the security process in elections, unless if invited by the police to assist.
But the CDS said the various military operations carried out in various parts of the country were as a result of the security challenges identified in the build up of the polls.
“The armed forces of Nigeria derived its authority from section 217 of the 1999 constitution which provides for the armed forces of Nigeria comprising of the Nigerian army, the Nigeria navy and the Nigeria airforce,” said Olonisakin.
“During the just concluded 2019 general elections, the success of the electoral process was almost hampered by the security in some parts of the country. Many crises prone areas were properly maned by security services to ensure that the electorate were secured enough to carry out their civic duties of electing candidates of their choices.
“(But) there have been various arguments by different positions of political parties and other stakeholders of the legality and otherwise of the military in support of the civic authority in the election process. A critical area of support that was provided and perhaps not very visible to the public is the deployment of military logistics capabilities, especially naval and air access to support the movement of materials across the country.
“I need to reiterate that this deployment is in line with constitutional role of the armed forces of Nigeria as earlier stated.
“Even in the last general election, the security situation in the country during the election process is better imagined if the military had not been deployed to perform their secondary responsibility, thus the effect of security on governance is an important aspect that lawmakers, military personnel and the civil public need to understand in other to make the right decisions.”