The Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, has said that a special court martial has been established to try soldiers who are found to be supporting political parties ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Buratai said on Tuesday that the military division and field commanders must, therefore, warn officers and soldiers under them not to be sympathetic to any political party or ethnic group ahead of the election.
The army chief noted that any soldier who was willing to participate in politics should “voluntarily retire from the army to pursue his or her political passion.”
Buratai spoke in Abuja at the 2nd and 3rd Quarters’ Chief of Army Staff Conference, saying that army personnel must shun politicians who were likely to approach them during the elections.
He said, “As political activities unfold towards the 2019 general elections, the General Officer Commanding and the Field Commanders are enjoined to continue to remind officers and soldiers under their commands to remain non-partisan and be guided by the stipulated code of conduct in the discharge of their duties. As professional soldiers, none of us should be sympathetic to any political, religious or ethnic cause. Any personnel of the army who is interested in politics should voluntarily retire to pursue his or her political passion.
“Furthermore, there is the prohibition of army personnel from any form of worship outside the established barracks worship areas, except those permitted for some peculiar social functions. I want to reiterate that the special court-martial to try defaulters is already in place. I enjoin you to refrain from any occult, ethnic, political or religious extremism as these would distract us from our constitutional responsibility.”
The army chief said the conference was to also appraise the performances of the army in the past few months in view of the insecurity challenges facing the country.
“There are ongoing operations to curtail the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, farmers and herdsmen’s clashes and others. The security situation in the North-West and North-Central states of Kaduna, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau and Taraba has necessitated the deployment of troops by the army and there is progress.
“The issue of drugs and other substance abuse is an area that could pose a serious threat to the operational capabilities and effectiveness of the army if the extra commitment is not taken towards eliminating it,” Buratai added.