By Akanimo Sampson,
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
CONFIDENCE in the Nigerian soldiers appears to be waning in Bayelsa State, a largely swampy Ijaw state in Southern Nigeria that is criss-crossed by oil pipelines. The impartiality of the armed security forces in the inconclusive elections in the state last December, came under severe public scrutiny.
Already, a civil society coalition is up against the involvement of soliers in the rescheduled polls. The coalition, National Frontiers, has embarked on a sit out till Sunday January 10, at the Unity Fountain, Abuja on the militarisation and manipulation of election in Nigeria with focus on the forthcoming governorship election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, the troubled spot.
Coordinator of the coalition, Olufemi Lawson said on Tuesday that as a member of the Election Monitoring Group in the December 5, polls he had first hand information of the use of the military to harass the electorate.
He emphasized that the Police should be allowed to take charge of the election while the military can serve in the back ground rather than intimidating voters.
“Soldiers were seen aiding and abetting people who are perpetrating electoral violence in Bayelsa State. The military must not been seen carrying election materials with militants. Election is a civil process and people must be allowed to choose the leader of their choice without intimidation”, Lawson said.
He also said that it is an indictment on the military for civilians to be on military uniform perpetrating evil in broad day light. It is in course of this the group called on the Federal Government to ensure the re-run is void of intimidation from the military as election is suppose to be a civil process.
The coalition said that election must be free and fair. They kicked against what happened in the Southern Ijaw on the 5th of December where the military aided hijacking of election materials.
He called on the youths not to be allowed to be used for electoral violence as he said no life must be sacrificed for election.