The Nigerian Army on Sunday denied reports of killing of some people and mass arrest during Saturday’s legislative re-run election in Rivers.
Maj.-Gen. Kasimu Abdulkarim, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Port Harcourt, denied the reports in a statement issued in Port Harcourt.
Abdulkarim also denied claims that the army connived with some politicians to influence the outcome of the just concluded legislative elections in the state.
“The allegation that soldiers carried out killings and mass arrest in Tai and Gokana Local Government Areas during the legislative rerun election is false.
“In addition, the allegations made by some respected politicians regarding deep involvement of soldiers during the elections were aimed at tarnishing the positive image of the army.
“These people (politicians) allegedly accused soldiers of snatching ballot boxes, illegal escort of some politicians and arrest and detention of voters during the elections which is totally untrue.
“Members of the public should consider these weighty accusations that present soldiers in a negative manner as mere farce to garner public sympathy,” he said.
Abdulkarim said that soldiers only provided security at the outer perimeter of designated collation centres and polling booths without getting directly involved with the elections.
He said that soldiers only took positions at checkpoints and flash points to avert possible attacks by hoodlums to disrupt the elections.
According to him, the army deployed soldiers to Abonema, Etche, Gokana, Ikwere, Eleme, Tai, Khana and Omoku (Onelga) local government areas due to numerous activities of gunmen in the areas.
“Susceptibility of mentioned areas warranted providing security for the electoral materials, voters, international and local observers, in conjunction with other security agencies for peaceful elections to thrive.
“For instance, in Gokana, armed hoodlumsengaged soldiers providing out perimeter defence for the electorate while three explosions which created confusion occurred by 7.30 a.m. in Abonema.
“After the explosion, 11 NYSC members were abducted along with electoral materials, but soldiers rescued 10 of the corps members two hours later while the latter was rescued eight hours later.
“At Emouha, one Mr Oblewaremu abducted five NYSC members and hijacked election materials but the corps members were later rescued while the suspect was handed over to the police,” he said.
Abdulkarim said that shootings and snatching of ballot boxes by hoodlums occurred in Bodo, B-dere and Mogho communities in Gokana local government area.
He said that soldiers conducted themselves with civility and professionalism in spite of provocative attacks by militant thugs during the elections.
The GOC said the army had constitutional responsibility to protect lives and properties and would not tolerate assault on innocent citizens and attacks on security personnel.
Abdulkarim gave an assurance that the army would remain non-partisan and continue to provide adequate security in the state. (NAN)
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