Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, advised Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to retract his earlier statement to the army to disobey an order made by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Vanguard, Buratai yesterday, asked the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to withdraw his statement asking the Army to disobey the president’s directive to be ruthless on ballot box snatchers.
Speaking at a meeting he held with Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding and Brigade Commanders ahead of the polls billed to commence this Saturday, Buratai warned politicians and their supporters against testing the will of the army, insisting that those found to have violated the law, will be treated in line with President Buhari’s directive.
At an emergency caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja last Monday, the President warned that anyone who foments trouble, especially by carrying ballot boxes, would be doing so at the “expense of his life.” ”Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb the election, maybe that would be the last unlawful action you would take. I have given the military and police the order to be ruthless. ”I am going to warn anybody who thinks he would lead a body of thugs in his locality to snatch boxes or to disturb the voting system; he would do it at the expense of his/her own life,” the president said.
Reacting to the President’s orders, PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, speaking at the 84th emergency meeting of the PDP national executive council, said Buhari was not involved in the struggle for democracy in Nigeria. “I want to direct this message to our military commanders and officers. You know that the military commanders and officers are not bound to execute orders that are manifestly unlawful,” Atiku said.
“This is the law, this is the tradition in the military; so if you are a professional military officer and soldier and also a policeman, you are not bound to execute an order that is manifestly unlawful, no matter who issues that order.” Atiku’s statement unfortunate — COAS Buratai, who said that Atiku’s statement was unfortunate given that he was in the highest level of government in the country before and knew fully that the Nigerian Army in particular and the military in general are meant to obey the orders of the Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to the latter, said they will treat Buhari’s latest order with exception.
Alhaji Abubakar however, fired back at the Army Chief, urging him to channel his energy to tackling insurgency in some parts of the country rather than dabbling into partisan realm. On its part, the PDP warned Buratai not to drag officers and men of the military into the murky waters of partisan politics, adding that President Buhari lacks the powers to deploy the military for election purposes, as there is a subsisting judgement of the Court of Appeal, which on February 15, 2015, held that the President has no powers to deploy soldiers in the conduct of elections.
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