Ahead of the May 29 handover, the Defence Headquarters on Monday vowed to resist anything that would truncate democracy.
The Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, threatened to crack down on potential threat to national security and warned the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network and other fringe groups not to test the will of the military.
He said the peaceful conduct of the general elections despite the insecurity engineered by the outlawed groups was a testament to the military’s resolve to ensure security across the country.
The military spoke against the background of the security crisis that preceded the election in parts of the country and the recent agitation for interim national government by some groups dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential election won by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu.
Citing the violence and other malpractices that allegedly characterised the polls, the groups were insisting that Tinubu should not be sworn in on May 29, noting that an interim government should be put in place instead.
Sequel to the clamour, the Department of State Services alerted the nation to a plot by unnamed politicians to scuttle the transition and install an interim government.
The secret police said it was monitoring the plotters and warned them against fomenting any crisis in the country.
Reacting to further questions on if the military would collaborate with the DSS to thwart the plans of the identified plotters of ING, the defence spokesman said, “We are ready to protect democracy. The CDS (the Chief of Defence Staff) has stated this severally. We will not do anything that would truncate democracy in the country.”
On his part, the chief of army staff while addressing the participants at the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference at the Command Officers’ Mess, Abuja, said nobody should threaten the integrity of Nigeria or attempt to truncate democracy in the country.
The army chief stated, “The peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections across the country including in the South-East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region, is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.
“Let me state here that elections or no elections, neither IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) , ESN (Eastern Security Network) nor any other group, groups or individuals should threaten the integrity of this nation as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’
Speaking further, the COAS commended the army for its adherence to the guidelines and implementation of the decisions taken at the 2022 conference “as evident in our professional conduct and apolitical disposition during the just concluded general elections.
“Your strict adherence to my directives and guidance in this respect is quite commendable. The efforts by the Army Headquarters to go around formations to deliver lectures on introspection of past experiences and efforts at improving NA support to operation safe conduct 2023 are also noted to have yielded desired outcomes.
“I am proud to say that various groups, organisations and distinguished individuals have commended our troops’ efforts during the 2023 general elections.
“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country. Generally, our operations and decisive actions against the criminal elements have impacted positively the security situation in the region, giving confidence to law-abiding citizens in the South-East.
“The peaceful conduct of general elections across the country including in the South East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.’’
Highlighting the various operations and inter-service activities which helped in bringing the security crisis under control, the COAS said, “This was made possible through the successful conduct of ‘Operation Safe Conduct 2023’ across the nation which saw the Nigerian Army along with the other Services and Agencies ensuring successful general elections.
“Our additional efforts through Joint Task Force ‘Operation Udoka’ paid off in the South-East thus ensuring successful Elections in the region as well, even though, long before the actual elections, IPOB/ESN and their supporters had threatened that there would be no elections in the Zone.
“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country.”
Efforts to get IPOB’s reaction did not succeed as of the time of filling this report at 10pm on Monday.
Speaking on the clamour for the interim government, retired Brigadier General Bashir Adewinbi maintained that there was no basis for such an arrangement in the country.
He said, “Elections have come and gone and a winner has been declared. There is no point for an ING, there is no basis for ING. Those plotting are trying to divide the country. We do not want division in the nation. The security operative’s should rise to the occasion. Is ING in the constitution? Nobody should be allowed to truncate the democratic system of government in the country. Whoever is aggrieved should go to court.”
Also, Col. Hassan Stan-Labo (retd) said an interim government could not be installed in the country without the backing of the incumbent president.
Alluding to the former ING headed Chief Ernest Shonekan, Stan-Labo argued that it had the support of the then government.
He said, “Can there be any ING without the incumbent government being in the know? Who would organise the swearing-in? Who would handle all the administrative arrangements? So when people talk about the interim government, they do as if it’s something that can just emerge from nowhere. It is something that must involve the sitting government. ING is not a coup, the government must be in the know to have ING.”
In a new development, some Nigerians on Monday staged a protest in front of the White House in the United States against the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
In videos shared on social media, the protesters could be seen brandishing placards with different inscriptions, some of which read, ‘Nigerians reject presidential election result’, ‘Democracy under threat in Nigeria’, and ‘Africa needs help to save democracy across the continent,’ amongst others.\
A yet-to-be-identified man, who addressed the protesters numbering about a hundred, stated that the presidential election “is a crime against humanity and I think the United States should never stand for this.”