From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State have rejected the planned deployment of military for the conduct of the Akpabuyo state constituency and Ogoja/Yala federal constituency by-elections slated for Saturday, February 26, 2022.
Addressing journalists on the state of preparedness at the party Secretariat Annex at Mary Slessor Avenue on Thursday in Calabar, the State Chairman of the party, Venatius Ikem, said the planned use of soldiers for the exercise is capable of scaring away voters.
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He said the people of Akpabuyo, Ogoja and Yala communities are not going to war rather they are only exercising their franchise and therefore see no reason why the state government is allegedly lobbying for the late militarisation of the process knowing the implications at this auspicious time.
According to him, “the directive to deploy the army can only come from the Chief of Army Staff and the political parties concerned will be adequately briefed on their operational order.
‘There are legitimate ways you can deploy the army as well as illegal ways to intimidate voters.
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‘That directive can only come from the Chief of Army Staff and if there are reasons to deploy the army it will be so stated. We will also be briefed on the operational order outside which you cannot deploy the army,’ he said.
He alleged that powers-that-be in the state met the Commander, 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in the early hours of today to solicit for the deployment of the army for the exercise, adding that the party will legitimately resist any such attempt because the army is not directly involved in elections.
He expressed worry that while they are playing by the rules, the government in power is doing everything else to work against the rules of engagement and also create an atmosphere where they will be a breach of security so they can use the apparatus of government to intimidate the party.
He maintained that the PDP in the state will not allow any underhand tactics to undermine an election they are poised to win.