2019 Elections: Buratai Orders Immediate Clampdown on IPOB/Splinter Groups; Says Unpatriotic Groups/Foreign Conspirators Plot to Scuttle Election; Orders Army Cyber Warfare Command to disrupt Boko Haram Propaganda Activities

Ahead of the February 16 Presidential elections in the country, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has ordered the General Officer Commanding (GOC) and Formations Commanders (Brigade Commanders) in the South East Area of Responsibility (AOR) to immediately embark on a clampdown on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their splinter groups.
“This is because the activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their splinter groups in the South Eastern part of the country are gaining momentum as the group is threatening to disrupt the 2019 electoral process”.
“Their excesses must therefore be clamped down immediately”, the COAS said.
Speaking at the opening of the COAS Operations Seminar at the Command Officers Mess in Abuja, Buratai added, “Furthermore, the political clashes in Taraba State and a few other states, call for enhanced liaison between Commanders, the Nigeria Police and other security agencies in order to de-escalate tension as quickly as possible.
“Let me at this point state that we have information of subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the 2019 General Elections in some parts of the country.
“We hereby warn such detractors to immediately mend their ways.
“The Nigerian Army is working closely with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure an enabling environment for the good citizens of our dear country to exercise their civic rights.
“In this regard, GOCs and field Commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.
Emphasizing on the elections, Buratai said, “Our role in support of the nations’ democracy cannot be over-emphasized. Hence, this Conference will provide us the opportunity to review the conduct of Ex Egwu Eke III and to appraise the preparations so far being made by various formations towards the smooth execution of Op Safe Conduct before, during and after the 2019 General Elections.
“I am glad to note that this Conference will also witness a presentation by the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command on our latest effort at adapting web-based technologies for monitoring the operating environment especially during the 2019 General Elections.
“Over the past one year, I have given very clear directives on the posture the Nigerian Army should adopt during the 2019 General Elections.
“The need for the Nigerian Army to remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles has been stressed.
“All Nigerian Army personnel must remain neutral, non-partisan and transparent in all their actions.
“I need to reiterate that there will be zero-tolerance for any action and in-action by Commanders at all levels that is deemed tilted towards giving undue advantage to any candidate, political party, ethnic or religious leanings to the detriment of the unity and integrity of Nigeria.
“This include knowingly or unknowingly receiving any form of inducement from politicians or other entities, be it public or private.
“GOCs and Field Commanders at all levels are to warn all officers and soldiers under their command to remain forthright and not in any way deviate from the professional ethics of the Nigerian Army.
“I have issued my operational directives for Operation Safe Conduct for the 2019 General Elections.
“The Nigerian Army has also produced a Code of Conduct Handbook for personnel to guide them during the Elections and copies have been distributed to all formations.
“You are to ensure that all personnel read and imbibe its contents and those deployed for Op Safe Conduct are to be issued a copy each.
“I urge you all to remind officers and soldiers under command to be guided by the stipulated Code of Conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties during the Elections.
“We will all recall some of the events of the 2015 General Elections which subsequently led to the sad exit of some fine officers who were found culpable.
“I therefore enjoin you all to impress on your personnel to avoid a repeat of such occurrences.
“At this juncture, let me remind us all not to lose sight of our current activities in Op Lafiya Dole and other operations across the country.
“I commend our troops in the field for their sacrifice and efforts in spite of daunting challenges. In spite of the difficulties over the last 3 months, efforts are ongoing to reverse this trend.
“The Nigerian Army troops have since recaptured Baga and this has rekindled the fighting spirit of troops in the theatre.
“Currently, the Nigerian Army Special Forces Command is conducting operations complemented by the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the Lake Chad Basin codenamed Op Yancin Tafki.
“The aim of the operation is to rid Northern Borno and the Lake Chad Basin especially the Tumbuns of all insurgent activities.
“At the same time concurrent operations are ongoing in Sectors 1 and 2 with the conduct of Op Maza Sunzo.
“This operation is aimed at clearing the insurgents from Sambisa Forest and Alagarno axis.
“One of the major issues we had in recent times is the management of information especially in the theatre which if not resolutely handled could jeopardize the successful conduct of our operations.
“To this effect, I have directed the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command to disrupt terrorists propaganda activities by embarking on robust counter narratives to neutralize efforts aimed at misleading and misrepresenting the situation on the ground.
“Additionally, the Nigerian Army in collaboration with the Guild of Editors, journalists, bloggers and writers held a 2-day media conference at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre to brainstorm on the need to promote national interest and safeguard national security in their reportage.
“It is also worth mentioning that the Nigerian Army troops deployed on other ongoing operations such as Ops Safe Haven, Delta Safe, Sharan Daji, Awatse and Op Whirl Stroke have continued to perform their tasks professionally.
“I am glad to note that in Op Sharan Daji, most of the camps and enclaves of armed bandits, cattle rustlers and criminals in Kamuku and Kuyambana Forests as well as other areas have been destroyed.
“I am particularly pleased with the joint operations by land and air components as well as the combined border patrols with troops from the Republic of Niger.
“These have stemmed the unhindered movement of foreign and local bandits.
“In addition, the activities of kidnappers have been effectively curtailed along Road Abuja–Kaduna through the efforts of troops of Op Whirl Punch, which has instilled confidence in commuters.
“Although we shall focus more on operational matters during the course of this Conference, it is important to note that in the area of logistics, we are re-kitting and re-equipping the Nigerian Army to align with current realities.
“The Presidency has intervened and is making serious efforts to acquire some equipment for the Nigerian Army through the Government to Government window.
“Let me seize this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for the support to the Nigerian Army through approvals for equipment procurement and several visits to troops in various operational areas in the last 3 months.
“I am glad to note that the Nigerian Army has reciprocated this show of support through the renewed tempo of operations in the field which has reversed some of the setbacks.
“Over the last 3 months about 250 motorcycles and 147 vehicles of various categories ranging from gun trucks to ambulances have been issued to operational and administrative formations.
“Clothing and general stores continue to be issued through emergency procurement in view of a surge of demand from the theatre.
“Renovation and rehabilitation works are ongoing in several cantonments and barracks, of particular note are the construction of officer’s transit accommodation in 81 Div AOR, construction of the Nigerian Army Aviation Operating Base in Jaji as well as the construction of over 5,500 metres of perimeter fencing at Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri.
“We are also pursuing vigorously the issue of power and metering of Nigerian Army cantonments and barracks to address the issue of huge electricity bills incurred over the years.
“In the interim, formations and units are hereby directed to set up committees to verify bills emanating from the electricity distribution companies in their AORs so as to ascertain the correct indebtedness of the Nigerian Army.
“In the area of research and development, the NA will consolidate on its drive to improve on our home-grown capacity to innovate, produce and maintain some of our core requirements.
“In this regard, I recently commissioned the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAMVC) at Rigachikun, Kaduna State.
“The Company is already surpassing the set milestones and if the standard is sustained, we would produce essential vehicles for immediate use within 12 months.”
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