The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Wednesday inaugurated the “Nigerian Army Situation Room for the 2019 General Elections’ Security Monitoring”.
Speaking after inaugurating the ‘situation room’, Mr Buratai said his men would be able to respond in three to five minutes to any security breach during the elections.
“Some almost immediately as the situation demands,” the army chief said. Mr Buratai also issued some emergency lines for the public to use.
He said the time response would be possible because not only because of troops deployment for the exercise but the fact that the “army has units and formations across the country”.
“We have troops on patrol, we have them on standby and they will be to respond quickly.
“All the formations, the GOCs, Brigade Commanders, we have links to them. We can reach within the shortest possible time.”
He gave the assurance that the army would work closely with the Police, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and other stakeholders in providing security for the elections.
Earlier, he said the situation room had been “reconfigured for real-time monitoring of events during elections”.
Mr Buratai said the army saw the need to devise new strategies of stemming security breaches during elections and even completely eliminate them.
‘Categories of violence’
He noted that such violence falls into three categories: “pre-election violence; violence during elections and post-election violence”.
“Violence at the various phases of elections include thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers or kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents and wanton destruction of lives and properties.”
According to him, having observed violence reoccur severally in electioneering processes, the Nigerian army deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture.
He said that posture would enable the army to better respond to early signs of insecurity “before they could escalate into a major security challenge”.
Fake news, propaganda
Mr Buratai also noted the threat of fake news and false propaganda pose to both the democratic process and military operations.
He said the use of media, especially social media, to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.
“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby having an influence on public sentiment and sow confusion among the electorate or even easily ignite violence during the period of the 2019 general elections.”
He said the Nigerian army through its “Cyber Warfare Command” has been continually engaged in monitoring, identifying and countering various forms of fake news and propaganda being put out by terrorists and subversive elements.”
Mr Buratai said the army would collaborate with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders to confront the menace of fake news during the elections.
Mr Buratai provided phone lines for the public to report any breach of security during the period, “as well as misconduct on the part of troops deployed for the exercise”.
The numbers are 07017222225, 09060005290 and 0809990013.
He urged members of the public to utilise the Nigerian Army Information Call Centre shortcode 193 from any network or the NA iReport platform on https://army.mil.ng.