The Nigerian Army on Friday directed the deployment of troops to flash points in Rivers ahead of the December 10 legislative elections rerun in the state.
The General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Maj.- Gen. Kasimu Abdulkarim, gave the order while addressing officers and soldiers at the Divisional Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Abdulkarim said the directive was to ensure the prevention of breakdown of law and order before, during and after the elections in Rivers.
He said that troops would also be deployed to strategic locations, including oil and gas installations and other critical assets in and around the state.
According to him, commanders will embark on early planning, coordination and liaison with civil authority, Nigeria Police Force, INEC and other stakeholders to ensure hitch-free election.
He said, “During the election, commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at flash points, key points and valuable points before, during and after the elections.
“Troops will be in their respective position by 3 a.m. on the Election Day while monitoring of security situation from the joint operations centre will commence two days before election.
“Commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at the outer perimeter of designated collation centres and polling booths in support of the Nigeria Police without getting directly involved with INEC activities.
“Similarly, commanders are to direct the conduct of patrols; establish checkpoints and roadblocks and provide escort during the election in order to prevent unlawful movements, ballot box snatching and sundry crimes.
“Also, commanders must ensure that troops deny unauthorised persons access to collation centres, INEC offices and NYSC officials during the election.”
Abdulkarim also directed “local commanders’’ of the army to escort the election materials to INEC office in Port Harcourt.
He said that troops would identify and curtail hostile individuals, groups and key players; gather information and carry out a show of force within strategic towns in Rivers and adjoining states.
“Lastly, commanders are to establish a broadband communication network with repeater stations at strategic towns starting seven days before and two days after the election.”
Abdulkarim urged troops to remain non-partisan and document on video as pictorial evidence for use in the event of litigation that might result from their conduct during the elections.
The GOC also advised troops to strictly adhere to army’s election Code of Conduct and Operational Orders in the rerun elections.
“This is because any personnel found to flout the army’s position on the election will be severely sanctioned in line with our operational guideline.
“Officers and soldiers should disassociate themselves with civilians and politicians, especially during the election,’’ he said.