In an apparent warning to the military to stay away from the forth-coming general elections, Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, hinted that the power of the military as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), does not empower it to monitor elections.
The INEC chairman spoke at a town hall meeting in Abuja, organised by Reinvent Media in conjunction with Ford Foundation and Kukah Centre, where he entertained questions on the state of preparedness of the electoral commission ahead of the March 28 and April 11 elections.
Military can’t monitor polls
He specifically said the military can only intervene by mounting security at the polling units, if there was any breakdown of law and order, adding that they can only do that at the invitation of the Inspector-General of Police, whom he noted, would solicit the support for security.
He said: “The Army are not supposed to be visible at any polling unit except there is a breakdown of law and order and they have been invited by the Inspector-General of Police.”
He equally said the Police, which he noted, can handle security during elections, would only be required to stay some 300 metres from polling units during coming elections.
Military must be restricted to its role
He cautioned that the military must be restricted to its role as defined by the Constitution if there is a breakdown of law and order.
He said: “They (military) are there so that if there is a breakdown of law and order which the Police are unable to contain, then they could be rapidly deployed to be able to assist.
“The Army is not supposed to be visible or to be around any polling unit unless there is a breakdown of law and order and they have been invited by the Inspector-General of Police.
“As far as we are concerned, the role of every security agency as it affects the electoral process is to add value but within the constitutionally-defined roles.”
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