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Polls: Soldiers should be confined to barracks and put on alert, Falana tells Buhari

Polls: Soldiers should be confined to barracks and put on alert, Falana tells Buhari
February 24
20:20 2023

Femi Falana, human rights advocate, says soldiers are to be confined to the barracks and put on alert during elections.

On Saturday, Nigerians will head to the polls to elect a new president and members of the national assembly.

On February 16, Usman Baba, the inspector-general of police (IGP), said a total of 404,106 security operatives will be mobilised for the elections.

Baba said the security operatives include officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Federal Road Service Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), armed forces, and Department of State Services (DSS).


Days ago, the Nigerian Army launched its operation Safe Conduct for the elections, and also released a list of hotlines that Nigerians can call to report suspicious activities during the polls.

Within the past 48 hours, videos showing armoured vehicles belonging to the military driving along streets have surfaced on social media.

Reacting to the development in a legal opinion published on Friday, Falana cited a previous court judgment on allowing the military to be deployed during elections, adding that there are enough agencies to handle security issues.


“Following the investigation conducted by the army headquarters into the rigging of the 2014 Ekiti state governorship election, some military officers were indicted and retired,” Falana said.

“And in the appeal arising from the election petition filed by the APC, the Court of Appeal stated in All Progressives Congress v Peoples Democratic Party (2015) LPELR 24349 that the president lacked the power to call on the armed forces to restore law and order in any part of the federation without the approval of the national assembly as provided in sections 217(2) and 218(4) of the Constitution as amended.

“On the basis of the aforementioned cases, the APC requested former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, not to allow the Jonathan administration to deploy the armed forces in conducting the 2015 General Election.

“The request of the APC was contained in a letter dated February 16, 2015, and signed by the Director, Legal Services of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN).


“In view of the foregoing, President Buhari should not allow the armed forces in the conduct of the election. Instead of terrorising voters, armed soldiers should be confined to their barracks and put on the alert.

“Since the Federal Government has restricted the movement of people throughout the country, the police, anti-graft agencies and paramilitary forces should be deployed by the Inspector-General of Police to maintain law and order during the 2023 General Election.

“President Buhari should be reminded of the cautionary words of the Court of Appeal in Yussuf v Obasanjo (supra) that ‘it is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarised. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999’.”



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