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2023 Election

#NigeriaDecides: Soldiers Shouldn’t Be Involved In Election Matters – Falana Tells Buhari




Prominent lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has condemned the deployment of soldiers to safeguard voters during general elections.

Falana stated this on Friday while reacting to videos showing armoured vehicles belonging to the Nigerian military driving along streets which surfaced on social media.

Also, the Nigerian Army launched Operation Safe Conduct for the 2023 elections and released a list of hotlines that Nigerians can call to report suspicious activities during the polls.

In a legal opinion published on Friday, Falana stated that soldiers are supposed to be restricted to the barracks and not to be deployed for civilian matters.

The senior lawyer said President Muhammadu Buhari should not allow the military to be part of the conduct of the election, saying that they should be put on the alert in case of emergency.

He cited a previous court judgment on allowing the military to be deployed during elections, adding that there are enough agencies to handle security issues.

He said: “Following the investigation conducted by the army headquarters into the rigging of the 2014 Ekiti state governorship election, some military officers were indicted and retired.

“And in the appeal arising from the election petition filed by the APC, the Court of Appeal stated in All Progressives Congress v Peoples Democratic Party (2015) LPELR 24349 that the president lacked the power to call on the armed forces to restore law and order in any part of the federation without the approval of the national assembly as provided in sections 217(2) and 218(4) of the Constitution as amended.

“On the basis of the aforementioned cases, the APC requested former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, not to allow the Jonathan administration to deploy the armed forces in conducting the 2015 General Election.

“The request of the APC was contained in a letter dated February 16, 2015, and signed by the Director, Legal Services of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN).

In view of the foregoing, President Buhari should not allow the armed forces in the conduct of the election. Instead of terrorising voters, armed soldiers should be confined to their barracks and put on the alert.

“Since the Federal Government has restricted the movement of people throughout the country, the police, anti-graft agencies and paramilitary forces should be deployed by the Inspector-General of Police to maintain law and order during the 2023 General Election.

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“President Buhari should be reminded of the cautionary words of the Court of Appeal in Yussuf v Obasanjo (supra) that ‘it is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarised. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999’.”