May 24, 2024

The high command said the armed forces were on standby and would ensure a smooth transition process scheduled to take place in 24 days.

The military has again warned against plans to sabotage the handover of power to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu on May 29.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami handed down the warning on Thursday as a former military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, advised candidates challenging the outcomes of the last election to accept the court verdict.

Danmadami’s caution came a month after the Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, vowed that the military would resist anything that would truncate democracy in the country.

Also, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, had threatened to crack down on potential threats to national security and warned the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network and other fringe groups not to test the will of the military.

Some aggrieved candidates had kicked against the planned inauguration of the president-elect and called for the interim national government but addressing defence correspondents at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Danmadami stated that the military would ensure that the inauguration was not derailed.

He declared, “I will reiterate that we are on standby to make sure that nothing unwanted happens; that the issue of threat to the security and stability of the country is addressed promptly. Elections have come and gone. For the presidential election, a winner has been announced.

“There is a transition committee in place comprising all members of the security agencies, ministries, and agencies of government to make sure the event is held successfully and without a glitch.

“We don’t see reasons why there should be a problem during the activity. The inauguration will come and go and nothing will happen. We are not going to relent in ensuring there is peace and stability across the length and breadth of the country. “

In his admonition to the aggrieved candidates who have lodged petitions at the various election tribunals, Gowon urged them to respect the sanctity of the court and humbly accept its decision in the coming days.

The elder statesmen gave the advice in Abuja at the 15th edition of the PUNUKA Annual Lecture 2023 and symposium in honour of the late justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Chike Idigbe.

The ex-military leader while emphasising the need for a strong, independent and impartial judiciary counselled aggrieved politicians and the public to abide by the decisions of the court.

He said, “As we move forward as a nation, let us not forget the role that the judiciary plays in nation-building, especially the apex court, in carrying out its duty of questioning the veracity of the decisions of the lower court.

“As such, we need to allow the apex court their deliberations and come up with their decisions, and as the public, to be humble to accept its decision as final in order to maintain the sanctity of the judiciary as individuals and as an institution.

“This is very important at this stage given the post-election litigation that is now going on. Let us give the judiciary the opportunity to do its work and let us accept their decision as it is.”

Acknowledging the challenge of the country since independence, he affirmed that “the judiciary plays a vital role in nation-building and in keeping us united as a nation.’’

He further added, “The judiciary, in essence, is the guardian of the constitution and the rule of law. As a former head of state, I have seen and known firsthand the importance of the judiciary in maintaining stability and order in our society.”

He poured encomiums on the late jurist and attested to his unwavering dedication to service and bravery in the dispensation of justice.

“From what I have learnt of Justice Idigbe, his contributions to the judiciary and nation-building cannot be overemphasized. His unwavering commitment to upholding justice and the rule of law is a testament to his unflinching character and his belief in our nation evinced through his life and office,” he submitted.

Commenting on the warning by the military, the Chief Spokesman for Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, maintained that the military had a lot to learn about the rule of law, including the Electoral Act.

Tanko wondered why the security agency, “which did absolutely nothing when thugs were snatching ballot boxes and intimidating voters, could suddenly wake up to announce that it would deal with those planning to disrupt the May 29 inauguration.’’

He said, “It is very disheartening when the rule of law is negated at the expense of the people. Our position is very clear: The Electoral Act says that all pre-election matters must be dealt with before the swearing-in.

“What we are appealing for the judiciary and the military to look into is the provision of our laws. They are the first line to protect the sovereignty of this country.

“Therefore, they should revisit the position of the law and the Electoral Act as regards our electoral process. As they have sworn to defend the integrity of our democracy, they should be able to follow the rule of law and order.’’

Tanko questioned the military’s commitment to the protection of democracy, saying, “Interestingly, they (military) did not protect the interest of the Nigerian people, especially at the point where they were denied their right to vote for the candidates of their choice.

“Neither did they rise or do anything against people who were using thugs to forcefully push their way into power. These people were not arrested or dealt with. How can you justify such an action when Nigerians are calling for the rule of law to be followed in the dictates of our democracy?

“Nobody is supporting any uprising but the rule of law of engagement must be followed. We are therefore appealing to the military to take a look into the provisions of the law as regards our electoral process. They can then take their cue and give their standing order on that point, not against the interest of the people they swore to protect.”

 

 

Punch

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