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Supplementary elections: Group wants less deployment of soldiers

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Lagos, March 21,2019 A group, Alliance for Defence of Democracy (ADD), on Thursday urged the Federal Government to ensure there was less military presence in areas holding supplementary elections on Saturday.

Mr Wale Okunniyi, Head of ADD, a group of political parties and associations, gave the advice at a news conference in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared some elections in parts of the country inconclusive, necessitating the supplementary polls.

Okunniyi, also the Director -General, Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM), said the deployment of soldiers in elections was an abberation in a democracy.

According to him, it undermines the credibility of elections.

He said heavy deployment of soldiers created an atmosphere of fear in elections and could aid rigging.

Okunniyi said the “militarisation” of the February and March elections was partly responsible for some of its pitfalls.

He called for less deployment of troops in areas holding supplementary polls.

“The military has no role constitutionally in an election; the heavy deployment of soldiers in the last elections has been condemned by the international community and we are also condemning it.

“We want to state that there should be less military presence in the supplementary elections.

“For the military to come to elections and maltreat people, sending people out of collation centres is an anomaly, and Nigerians should stand against this.

“The military is supposed to serve the civil populace, they should not ride roughshod on people and give them orders.

“That was what we had in the main elections and that should not come up in the supplementary,” he said.

Okunnuyi said the February and March elections held so far could not be termed free and fair, noting that they were marred by violence in some areas.

He said that the ADD, which he described as parties in the “Third Force Movement ” was kick starting a process of consultation across the country in a bid to challenge the results.

Okunniyi said the group and the people were not particularly happy with the results of the senatorial elections in some areas in Ogun and Oyo state, among others.

The ADD head called for the reform of the electoral system to perfect the country’s democratic process and improve credibility of elections.

He regretted that members of the ADD, including the People’s Trust, Young Peoples Party (YPP) and Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), could not speak with one voice before the 2019 elections.

Okunniyi assured that the ADD would correct the mistakes of the past by uniting all parties under the platform to give Nigerians a better deal in future elections.

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