The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has announced its rejection of plans by the Nigerian Army to recommence a security exercise, codenamed “Operation Python Dance”, also known as Egwu Eke III.
The PDP expressed its opposition to the exercise in a statement signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, its National Publicity Secretary, on Saturday.
Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, had announced that the exercise, which was previously conducted in the South-East, would now assume a nationwide status, with it slated between January 1 to February 29, 2019. The COAS said the exercise is in preparation against security challenges likely to be encountered before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
However, the PDP alleged that the exercise is a ploy by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to deploy the soldiers to harass and intimidate the electorate during the election.
The statement also accused unidentified members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of planning to use the soldiers to limit the distribution of election materials as well as disrupt the conduct of the election.
“Our investigation shows that part of the plot is to use the military operation as a subterfuge to unleash heavy security presence to intimidate, harass and instil fear in voters in PDP strongholds across the country and pave the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Buhari and the APC.
“Further investigation revealed that agents of the Buhari Presidency are working in cohort with some compromised top officials of the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission to use soldiers to provide cover for diversion of electoral materials, as well as aid APC agents in their plan to unleash violence and disrupt the electoral process in areas where the PDP is winning.
“In spanning the military operation to February 28, 2019, the Buhari Presidency betrayed its anticipation of public rejection or violence, which can only come when a result that does not reflect the actual wish of the people is announced,” the statement read.
The PDP said it rejects “the militarization of our electoral process”, noting that the country is not under any form of a state of emergency.
The opposition party urged the military leadership to resist plans to deploy them to unfairly interfere in the elections, claiming that Nigerians are clamouring for a change following their disappointment over the state of governance of the Buhari administration.
“The PDP PCO, therefore, rejects this deliberate attempt by the Buhari Presidency to set our military on a collision course with Nigerians, bearing in mind the collateral damage that usually occurs whenever the civilian population clashes with military.
“Our nation is a democratic state and we are not in a state of emergency that requires the militarization of our electoral process.
“Our military, which is cherished by Nigerians, should, therefore, foreclose any attempt by the Buhari Presidency to use it to set our country on fire,” the statement read.