The Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Akwa Ibom State has described the recent military exercise tagged ‘Operation Show of Force’ carried out in some local governments across the state as a ploy by the Army to rig elections for the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
The party also condemned the alleged declaration of ten Local Governments as flashpoints by the Army, arguing that there was no basis for such action since the elections were conducted in the most peaceful manner in the state.
In a statement by the party’s Publicity Secretary in the state, Ini Ememobong, and sent to journalists on Sunday, the party decried the purported militarisation of elections in the state.
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According to him, “As a party we are at a loss as to the foundation or basis for the declaration of those areas as flashpoints.
“It is common knowledge that no casualty was recorded in the last elections in Akwa Ibom state, unlike other states where scores of people were killed and maimed.
“We will like to remind the military that their primary duty is the protection of the territorial sovereignty of our country and not to take over civil policing, except in extreme circumstances (which elections do not fall within).
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“We hereby totally reject the proposed militarization of our elections and refer them to the judgment in the case instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari, who then was candidate of the APC in 2015 on the role of the military in elections.
“We again call on the Chief of Defence staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Army Operations and the entire Army High command to direct the GOC 6 Division to immediately withdraw the over 30 soldiers attached to Nsima Ekere, the 15 soldiers attached to Chief Godswill Akpabio and the 8 soldiers attached to Senator Ita Enang.
“We plead with the army to desist from partisan politics and to remain professional in line with their Rules of Engagement, as this is the only guarantee for a thriving democracy”
Reacting to the claims by PDP, the Army Public Relations Officer, Major Bashir Jajira, denied that Army had declared ten Local Governments as flash points.
He said the Army merely carried out a Show of Force in nearly all the Local Government areas of the State to build confidence among the populace and encourage them to come out during the elections.
“We have not declared any Local Government in Akwa Ibom State flashpoints areas. We went on Show Of Force to nearly all the Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, to build confidence among the people, and encourage them to come out for the election.” Jajira said.