Impact Future Nigeria (IFN), a pro-democracy group, on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over ‘militarisation’ of the 2019 general elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the group marched on some roads in the FCT, carrying placards with different inscriptions, thereafter, proceeded to the U.S. Embassy to express their concerns to the international community.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Our democracy is in danger’’, “Stop using Army in our elections’’, among others.
According to the group, involvement of military in elections is a threat to Nigerian nascent democracy which must be brought to the attention stakeholders, including the diplomatic community.
Miss May Ubeku, the Convener of IFN, said that the protest was part of efforts to ensure that the Governorship and States House of Assembly polls slated for March 9 were not militarised.
“We are gathered here today to draw the attention of all Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the world, especially the U. S. to the danger of militarilisation of our polls.
“Peaceful elections without intimidation of citizens are essential to Nigeria’s stability, and that is why we are calling on the international community to urge the Federal Government not to involve the military in our elections.
“It is pertinent to note that the Nigerian Army, saddled with the responsibility of protecting our territorial integrity and ensure peace, has decided to take sides in elections.
“In the last presidential and national assembly polls, there were alleged clear cases of molestations and intimidations of voters to favour a particular party.
“This posses a great danger to our hard earned democracy as the army has become a willing tool for any ruling government to use during elections,” she said.
Ubeku therefore read out the group’s requests as captioned in a letter to the U.S. President, Donald Trump through its embassy in Abuja.
She expressed fears that the alleged military involvement in polls could lead to voter apathy, especially during the March 9 elections, which is “capable of posing big threats to credible electioneering process.”
“We are simply saying that the U.S. and other models of democracy should urge the Federal Government for our security agencies to remain non-partisan to avoid voter apathy during the next elections.
“The Nigeria military is a revered and independent institution that must act responsibly without any interference from vested interests and anti-democratic forces that are bent on truncating our young democracy.
“We have Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges facing us as a nation, therefore, the army should focus on tackling that.
“The Nigeria Police is well able to maintain the peace during our elections, and they should be left to handle it since we are not in military dispensation.
“This administration came into power through a free and fair election in 2015, we therefore urge it to work toward ensuring that the 2019 polls are free, credible and peaceful,” Ubeku said.