Army sets for showdown with Biafran supporters

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai on Monday urged troops to clamp down on activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its splinter groups to prevent disruption of the forthcoming election.

Buratai, who gave the directive in Abuja, when he declared open the 2019 first quarter Chief of Army Conference, accused the banned group of planning to disrupt the election.

The Federal Government, in September 2017 through an Executive Order of President Muhammadu Buhari, outlawed the Indigenous People of Biafra and its activities in every part of the country.

The Federal High Court in Abuja, thereafter gave judicial backing to the Executive Order.

The Acting Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, granted the order proscribing the group.

The court declared that activities of the group constituted acts of terrorism and illegality.

The army chief said activities of IPOB are gaining momentum ahead of the election. “Their excesses must, therefore, be curtailed immediately,’’ he said.

Buratai restated that there were intelligence reports on “subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the election in some parts of the country.’’

He warned such detractors to immediately mend their ways.

“In this regard, GOCs and field Commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.’’

On involvement of officers and soldiers in the conduct of the election, Buratai said he had in the past one year given clear directives on the posture they should adopt during the exercise.

According to him, the need for the Nigerian Army to remain apolitical and professionally responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles has been stressed.

“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,’’ he added.

Still on the election, the army chief said he had issued operational directives for Operation Safe conduct for the general election.

“The Nigerian Army has also produced a Code of Conduct Handbook for personnel to guide them during the election and copies have been distributed to all formations.’’

He reminded them of events in the 2015 general election which subsequently led to the “sad exit of some fine officers, who were found culpable.’’