The insistence of the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government to deploy soldiers for election duties is a ploy to subvert the will of the people, a cross section of northern leaders have said.
The leaders were reacting to a statement by the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation that there is nothing wrong in the planned deployment of the soldiers.
The director of media and publicity for the PDPPCO, Mr.Femi Fani-Kayode, had claimed that for opposing the deployment of the soldiers, the opposition All Progressives Congress was planning to unleash mayhem on Nigerians before, during and after the elections.
Reacting to the move, Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie, faulted the deployment of soldiers during the polls, arguing that it is aimed at rigging the election.
This view was shared by Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic, Alhaji Abubakar Mamman Dan Musa and former Governor of old the Katsina State, Alhaji Lawal Kaita.
They argued that no section of the Constitution prescribes a role for the military in the electoral process.
Coomassie said that the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation was only afraid of the outcome of the presidential election, hence its call for the involvement of the military in the polls with a view to intimidating the people.
“It is not the responsibility of the other security agencies to maintain law and order in case of any eventuality during elections. It is the duty of the police and SSS. Therefore, until the police and SSS say they cannot do it alone that is when you consider the use of soldiers”, Coomassie said.
“Even at that, they are not expected to be at the polling units. So, those calling for the use of the military are only undermining the capacity of the police. It is the duty of the police to write to other security agencies if they require any assistance”.
For his part, Mohammed, who is the convener of the coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, declared the planned use of soldiers during the elections as unconstitutional and irresponsible.
“Certainly, I am not surprised by the call, considering those who constitute the Jonathan campaign organisation. They think, in their own senses, that majority of Nigerians are in support of the President and as such, they can use that to intimidate everybody. But, as far as I am concerned, the campaign is not even on ground anywhere in Nigeria.
“They believe that because the uniformed men are paid by the government, they will definitely support President Jonathan, but the uniformed men themselves who I believe are not more than 500,000 cannot control 170million Nigerians, in case of any eventuality. Besides, there is no guarantee that everybody in the military and paramilitary is a supporter of the PDP or Jonathan himself.
“It is unconstitutional for the military to be used in the election process. Therefore, anyone claiming to be a democrat must also condemn it, because it is a plan to rig the elections.
“I am completely opposed to soldiers getting involved in our election. The rigging of election in Ekiti is still fresh in our memory.
“I am a democrat. I believe in the rule of law and also believe that democracy without the rule of law is a functional impossibility. There is already a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that no soldiers should be deployed for the conduct of the election.
“Even before the latest ruling of the Court of Appeal, neither the Constitution nor the Electoral Act envisaged any role for soldiers.
“The most honest and prudent way forward for this country and for the President and his party would be to facilitate the holding of honest and credible election – free of violence, free of any intimidation, free of rigging and free of any electoral malpractices”, the Russian trained medical doctor said.
Former Gov. Kaita lauded the recent court ruling precluding soldiers from any role during the forthcoming elections, and said the verdict was in tune with democracy, while Dan Musa said: “If there is no immediate threat to law and order, there is no justification for soldiers to be deployed in the election”.
On alleged move by the PDP to enlist the support of some traditional rulers ahead of the elections, he said: “To me, really, change has come; even though they can get the support of all the Emirs in the North; that cannot work. Remember that in 2011 after the election, most of the traditional rulers in the North, those that appeared to have supported PDP— their palaces were torched in the process”.