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2023 polls: We will not tolerate any form of violence, Military warns politicians

....says investigations ongoing to unravel perpetrators of Owo attack

The Nigerian Military has warned all Nigerians aspiring for political and appointive offices that it will not tolerate any form of violence in the forthcoming elections and electioneering campaigns.

Lt-general Lucky Irabor, chief of defence staff (CDS), speaking in Abuja on Thursday said the military will work closely with the Nigeria Police Force to ensure peace before, during and after the election process; and warned politicians to desist from violating the law. “Anyone who is looking forward to being elected must do it within the ambit of the provisions of the law because we will not in any way stand aside and see those who will perpetrate violence all because they are looking for political and appointive offices,” the CDS warned.

“We are working very closely with the police and we stand ready to give the team all the support that is necessary, because going forward, Nigeria must be peaceful and that’s what we are looking forward to. Nigeria remains a nation that must live in peace and Nigerians deserve to live in peace and so we will not allow criminals, thugs that have made themselves available for anyone to use, we will not allow it,” he said.

He also urged Nigerians to also ensure that they play their part in ensuring that peace reigns in the country. He said, “Please, do not think that its just the responsibility of the government, its for every one of us to ensure that we have a peaceful electioneering period and the 2023 elections so that everyone of us will have a country that we will be proud of . If we don’t have a country then there will be positions to aspire for . So the most important thing regarding this election that is coming is that we must be men and women that conduct ourselves peacefully.”

Speaking further, the CDS disclosed that one of the major problems confronting the military is the lack of a device to deactivate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), while disclosing that IED attacks have remained the greatest challenge especially for the operations in the Northeast over the years.

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The CDS said the equipment currently being used by the troops in the northeast theatre command makes it difficult for troops to carry out operations and attack the enemy. He noted that there is currently no device that deactivates IED effectively known to the military, but informed that the military is exploring other innovative solutions to tackle the problem.

“The equipment is not manufactured here, when we go to the field, we buy what is available. There is no equipment that is used for detecting IED in the market that have been assessed to be effective that we do not have, but it’s one thing to claim that an equipment can do something, it’s a different thing to confirm whether the equipment can actually do it.

So, What they have (Northeast theatre command) is not effective as they would have loved it. I was also a victim of it, what we were able to get in the market which was accessed to be the best , and when we started using it in our operation, it became a problem in itself. What it does is that it will be ahead and it will dig out the soil in the hope that any IED that is buried will explode so that oncoming troops will not be affected . We realised that as soon as it passes, every other vehicle coming will get stuck and can’t move so it more or less created a problem. So even though it’s able to deactivate IED’s we can’t achieve operational objectives because it’s not just to deactivate the IED, it’s to be able to attack the objective. So if the men who are to attack the objective cannot move by virtue of the obstacle they the equipment has created then we have failed.

“So right now as I speak with you, we are thinking of what to do with that equipment and we have also made some ingenious creation to see how we can beat it.”

On the Owo Church attack, major general Bernard Onyeuko, director, defence media operations assured that various security agencies are working to unravel the perpetrators. “We are not sleeping, we are always on the move, investigations are ongoing,” he added.

Speaking further on the activities of the armed forces between 2-16 June 2022 said security forces intensified efforts in the fight against terrorism, economic saboteurs, banditry and sundry crimes in the theatres of Operations in some parts of the country.

In the northwest region, the director said troops of operation Hadin Kai, recovered assorted weapons and killed scores of bandits. “In another development, the Commander Joint Task Force Operation Hadarin Daji on 6 June 2022 handed over 706 assorted arms and ammunitions captured from the terrorists and other criminal elements within the theatre of operation comprising of katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi State.”

In the Northeast Zone, Onyeuko said a total of 57,004 Boko Haram Terrorists and their families have surrendered comprising of 12,547 males, 17,027 females and 27,430 children. Also in the south south region, he said a total of 26 illegal refining sites were destroyed and 2,264,000 litres of stolen crude oil, 1,142,000 litres of AGO and 10 oil thieves were arrested by their own troops from 9 – 14 June.