By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has stressed the need for the military to stick to the rules of engagement during the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
Governor Ortom, who categorically declared that he does not condone electron rigging, insisted that due process must be followed in dealing with those who commit infractions.
The governor said at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday that the military must stick to the rules of engagement during the conduct of the coming elections.
He advised anything that could disrupt the election must be avoided, affirming though that he would support any move by the president to prevent rigging in the election.
The governor spoke in response to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to the military to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers.
He however cautioned that obeying such directive will amount to perpetrating extra-judicial killing, which he said can lead to the prosecution of the military personnel at the International Court of Justice (ICC)
Ortom said: “It is unfortunate that Nigeria is gradually drifting to a banana republic where no rule of law is respected and observed.
“Let me say unequivocally that I am completely against the rigging of any form by any political party. It is wrong and we do not need that.
“For me, I did not rig election to become governor. But the truth of the matter is that we have laws. And I expect that Mr. President who is the chief custodian of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should protect our constitution and the laws of the land. It is unfortunate that Mr. President gave that order.
“I was just reading from the social media the reaction of the military that they are going to obey the directives of Mr. President to the letter. It is unfortunate. This cannot stand, this cannot hold.
“I want to advise those who are in the military, police and the other security agencies that they should know that they are also Nigerians. Today, they are serving the public; tomorrow they will not be there. Maybe some of them will become politicians like some of us are.
“It has happened in the past and it will happen again. And I also want to remind them that the day of reckoning will definitely come when they will be alone to give account of their stewardship.
“So, I want to advise them to respect the rules of engagement based on the laws of the land. No matter the directives of Mr. President.
“The police, army, DSS and all other security agencies should be professional rather than taking arbitrary directives. This is not correct. In a democratic set up, things must be done rightly,” he said.
The Governor condemned the position of Mr. President to allow security agencies to deal ruthlessly with Nigerians, adding: “It will not be accepted and we are going to contest this.
“To the security agencies, I want them to know that beyond Nigeria, there is International Criminal Court. And when you finish your tenure, you will still be liable. If you do that which is wrong, Mr. President will not be there tomorrow to protect you.
“So, they have to be mindful. We must protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, otherwise none of us will be safe again including the President.”