The chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai has said the army is bound to obey orders from constituted authorities, dismissing Atiku Abubakar’s call for the military not to obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to kill ballot box snatchers.
Briefing army commanders and principal staff officers on Wednesday, Buratai said it was strange that some persons seeking to rule the country could incite the military into violence.
He did not mention the PDP presidential candidate by name, but it was obvious that he was referring to the former vice president.
President Buhari had on Monday directed security forces to kil those who snatch ballot boxes during the coming elections.
The order had sparked national outrage and was condemned by the PDP candidate, who indirectly asked security operatives to disobey Buhari’s “illegal” order.
Mr. Atiku had said the directive is inconsistent with the laws of the land and military commanders were not meant to obey such order irrespective of the position of the person who issued it.
But the army chief is backing the president, warning that those who try to interfere with the electoral process will be appropriately dealt with.
This is however in conflict with the clarification given on Tuesday by army spokesman, Sagir Musa after Buhari’s order. He had told the press that army’s actions would be guided by the rules of engagement during the general election.
In any case, Buratai said, “One of our core values is loyalty to constituted authority. It is unfortunate to hear persons who are aspiring to rule this country are inciting the army to disobedience,” he said.
“We have consistently stated our position in the political dispensation to remain neutral and apolitical. However, direct and public incitement of the Nigerian Military against democracy and constituted civil authority will not be tolerated.
“I request such persons to withdraw this inciting statement. Let me reemphasize loud and clear, that the Nigerian Army is a professional army. The foundation of military professionalism is discipline and without discipline an army cannot stand. Loyalty must be hundred per cent. I shall leave you in no doubt as to our resolve to bequeath a professionally responsive army to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Should any officer or soldier have doubts as to his loyalty to the Nigerian state as presently constituted, such a person has up to 22 February 2019 to resign. There is no room for indiscipline or disobedience to lawful orders in the army today.”