The Nigeria Army has begun mobilising its troops to provide adequate security during the November 11 governorship and state house of assembly elections in Bayelsa.
Maj.-Gen. Jamal Abdussalam, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt stated this in a statement issued by the division’s Spokesman, Maj. Danjuma Danjuma in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Abdussalam was quoted as having announced the mobilisation while addressing troops and members of other security agencies participating in a special military exercise tagged “Exercise Safe Conduct 2023.”
Abdussalam said the mobilisation of troops for the election was aimed to create an enabling environment for the smooth conduct of elections in Bayelsa.
“We are doing this to ensure the good people of Bayelsa state come out in their numbers to vote for candidates of their choice without any fear of intimidation.
“This is one of the ways the Nigeria Army will support democracy to thrive in Nigeria.
“We must ensure that everywhere is safe and people see sufficiently that we are fully on the ground to boost public confidence in the electoral process,” he said.
The army officer said that troops have been adequately briefed on the subsisting Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement before, during and after the elections.
“To this end, personnel must conduct themselves in the most professional manner as no form of complacency will be tolerated at all levels.
“No stone will be left unturned in dealing decisively with any individual or group whose stock in trade is to cause mayhem or snatch ballot boxes during the elections.
“If the troublemakers feel they have two heads, then they must make ready the second head because the first head will surely be taken off,” he added.
Abdussalam said the era of snatching and stuffing ballot boxes and other forms of electoral was gone, as adequate arrangements have been put in place to deal decisively with defaulters.
He said the army would in the coming days launch an operation to identify, isolate and deal with political thugs hired to disrupt the smooth conduct of the Nov. 11 elections.
According to him, the army has also identified flash points used by political thugs to deny the electorates access to freely exercise their franchise during elections.
“Those thinking along that line should bury their thoughts because the security forces will go all out to ensure the election is conducted in a peaceful manner.
“Hence, I am pleased with the level of synergy that exist between the Nigeria Army and sister services that culminated in a joint route march and show of force in Yenagoa, and environs.
“The show of force essentially sends a clear message to those who are bent on causing trouble before, during and after the poll, to have a rethink,” he said.
The News Agency reports that Bayelsa is among states that has always recorded electoral violence and snatching of ballot boxes by alleged sponsored political thugs in previous elections.
The election would be a close call between incumbent governor, Douye Diri of the PDP, who is seeking a second term in office and his closest challenger, former governor Timipre Sylva of the APC.