Rivers rerun: Follow operational rules – Army Chief warns soldiers
However, the number of personnel and equipment that were being deployed for the election was not disclosed.
The General Officer Commanding, Major General K.I Abdulkarim, disclosed that Commanders of the various units were to ensure the deployment of troops at flash points, effective from 3 a.m. on Saturday.
Abdulkarim said soldiers are also to man the perimeters of all collation centres across the state, but would not be allowed to get too close as to be seen to have encroached on the conduct of the elections.
He said, “The significance of these elections to the people of RIVERS State and Nigeria’s democracy needs not be overemphasized. You must therefore, remain apolitical in the discharge of your duties.
“You must also ensure that all your actions before, during and immediately after the elections are properly documented on video as pictorial evidence for use in the event of any litigation that might result from the conduct of troops during the elections.
“Operational directives containing guidelines for conduct of ‘OP SAFE CONDUCT II’ in respect of the election has been forwarded to your Headquarters for strict compliance. However, for the purpose of emphasis and wider circulation, I will reiterate on the guidelines that will regulate your actions before and during the election.
“Before the election, Commanders are to embark on early planning, coordination and liaison at all level with the civil authority, NP, INEC and other stakeholders in the States in order to ensure a hitch free election by D-7.
“You are to also identify and effectively curtail hostile individuals/groups, key players and dominate flash points within the State.
“During the election, commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at flash points, KPs and VPs.
“Commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed at the outer perimeter of the designated collation centres/polling booths in support of NP without getting directly involved with INEC’s activities.
“Furthermore, commanders are to direct the conduct of patrols, establish checkpoints/roadblocks and provide escorts during the election in order to prevent unlawful movements, ballot box snatching and sundry vices. Also, commanders must ensure that troops deny unauthorized persons access to collation centres, INEC offices and NYSC officials during election.
“At the end of the exercise, local commanders are to escort the election materials to INEC office.
“Finally, commanders must ensure that troops are deployed rapidly to contain any breach of peace and ensure protection of lives and property while taking into consideration the principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and humanity.
“It is important to strongly warn that anything short of the prescribed standard as clearly spelt out in the Code of Conduct of Troops during Elections and the recently issued Operational Orders on 2016 RIVERS State Re-run Elections from Headquarters 6 Division will totally be unacceptable. Therefore, I also wish to make it clear that anyone found wanting will be sanctioned accordingly.”