April Polls: CODER Rejects Deployment Of Soldiers
SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, (THEWILL) - Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) today expressed concerns about the plan of the federal government to deploy military personnel to provide security on election dates in troubled states.
National Coordinator of the coalition, Chief Ayo Opadokun rejected the deployment of the military personnel in a statement, stating that it was abnormal to use soldiers for internal security.
Opadokun said, “soldiers are trained to shoot and regard opponents as enemies to be killed, while policemen are trained to warn, and deter offenders before arrest and prosecution and the use of minimum force is supposed to be the last in their rule of engagement.”
He added that, “the coalition observes painfully that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in recent times has immorally and illegally used police officers to harass, intimidate and arrest members and officials of the opposition as it has happened in Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kwara and Oyo States respectively.
“While two groups are usually involved in open confrontations, only the opposition parties are hounded and harassed. This does not provide a level playing field for equitable contest,” the coordinator said.
Opadokun added that a combination of undue deployment of policemen and soldiers is certainly going to scare away many voters from coming to vote because of the intimidating presence of over-charged security agents at the various polling stations.
“The overkill presence will again result in another farcade of Voting Process whereby security personnel will be greater in number than the voters. Also, the government officials including the Security Chiefs have no legal power to force Nigerian voters away from protecting their votes at the various polling stations.
“CODER asks the INEC to take stake-holders into confidence in the distribution of electoral materials as contained in electoral act and comply strictly with other electoral guidelines. A transparent process and fair conduct of the election is a better guarantee to producing relatively peaceful atmosphere at the polling stations. Deploying soldiers for this civil exercise will be counter productive.
“CODER wishes to warn that those who want to overuse state security instruments to intimidate their opponents to desist from such acts because they may soon discover that they do not appear to have a monopoly of access to instruments of violence if what we read in the media is to be believed.
“CODER restates that Nigeria political operators must not undermine this unique opportunity to organize a transparent election where the will of the voters will be respected and their democratic wish will decide the winner, not the will of the people in government, or the wish of INEC officials,” the statement added.