The South-South Coalition for Credible Leadership has described as a welcome development the deployment of military troops to the region ahead of the Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections.
The coalition said the action would further boost the confidence of electorate during the polls.
Briefing newsmen on Thursday, Success Timothy, the Coordinator General of the group, said the deployment is necessary following the success of the troops in some south-southern states during the national assembly and presidential election on February 23.
According to him, the presence of troops during the elections proved to be the right decision in view of the fact that acts of politically motivated violence were limited to a few instances.
Success said the he pockets of violence witnessed in some parts of Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers state would have been more widespread but for the presence of troops.
According to him, “Interestingly, the Niger-Delta, where political leaders clamored most against military presence for the election, recorded more of the instances of violence and ballot snatching during the exercise. It is logical that soldiers should be withdrawn from areas that were largely peaceful during the polls of two weeks ago to allow for the deployment of higher number of troops to the places that recorded violence.
“Meanwhile, we observed that the personnel of the Nigerian Army were able to maintain peace and prevent political brigandage while adhering to acceptable rules of engagement. They fear of abuse and intimidation of the civilian population, which opponents of military deployment had used to back up their argument, turned out to unjustified as law abiding citizens had nothing to be apprehensive about. Only attackers that had intended to deprive other people of their right to life were gunned down in exchange of gunfire with troops in Rivers state.
The South- South Coalition for Credible Leadership therefore passes a vote of confidence on the Nigerian Army and its personnel. They have the capacity to support security operations in the regions towards ensuring that elections hold without citizens being afraid for their lives or worrying that their votes will not count because ballot box snatchers. Their presence in the entire Niger-Delta region will ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order by any group of persons.
“We passed this vote of confidence cognizant of the campaign of calumny being waged against the deployment of the military for the elections. It does not take long to decipher the intent of those opposed to troops being in the Niger-Delta during this period. These people comprise of opposition political parties that lost in the presidential and National Assembly elections because they were unable to use thugs to snatch and stuff ballot boxes just as they were unable to intimidate voters.
“The other sets of people opposed to seeing troops in the Niger-Delta are the militants and sabotage economic infrastructure in the region as well as those that have their sight set on kidnap for ransom. These are backed up by separatist elements, including those that belong to groups that the courts have outlawed. They are apparently scared that the presence of the military in the area will yield credible intelligence that can be used to dismantle their non-election related criminality.
“It is most unfortunate that the criminal intentions of the aforementioned groups are being hidden behind the façade of ‘the opposition’ and for marshalling weak arguments against the deployment of troops to secure the country during the elections. The fake news they are peddling is that the Army is the region to favour particular candidates. This must rank among the greatest lies told so far in 2019.
“We note the charge by the Chief if Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai, to troops and commanders to do better during their deployment for Saturday’s election. Such decisive and responsive leadership has contributed to the sterling performance that the Nigerian Army displayed during the previous elections. His acknowledgement of the few instances of violence and a commitment to correct these errors is laudable for this gives the assurance that there will be improved voters’ turn out once the electorate are reassured that they are safe.”