Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State yesterday in Benin City raised alarm over the deployment of Military Personnels to his village at Iyahmo and the donation of 14 Hilux Vehicles by Minister of Work, Mike Onolememen with the intent to move Military men on mufti to strategic locations in the state to intimidate voters. Addressing Journalists in Government House, Oshiomhole said, ìI urge our people to go out enmass and vote. The presence of soldiers should not discourage anybody from going out to vote. These soldiers are Nigerians, they live in Nigeria and they have stake in the prosperity of the country. No one should be scared to go out and vote. If anybody is intimidated or harass, the person should report to the nearest party official of his own party and appropriate action. ìFor now, I prefer to believe that nobody in uniform or out of uniform will do anything to compromise our sheer commitment to ensure a free and fair election. However, we have a few disturbing stories which I have already raised with the security agents. This includes the deployment of soldiers to my village which was clearly calculated to intimidate my person. ìNo one needs to sympathize with me on that because those who know me know that I cannot be intimidated. We are at our best when anyone tries to intimidate us. This cannot be an excuse for anybody to take laws into his or her own hands. I am also informed and have raised it with the Brigade Commander that there are soldiers that have been deployed to Edo State who will be parading various streets and neighborhoods and according to the Brigade Commander, ëthey are meant to monitor the electioní. ìI have told the Brigade Commander that we do not need soldiers who are not wearing uniforms because they could be mistaken for SSS operatives. In any case, this event is not a military exercise, it is not operation for military intelligence. The role of the army is well defined in the constitution and in the electoral act by various pronouncements by courts of competent jurisdictions. ìIn order to avoid anything that will lead to violence or lead to allegation of misuse of the Armed Forces, I have told the Brigade Commander not to allow the deployment of any soldier who is not wearing uniform. Even if the soldier is wearing uniform, he must hang his identity card such that it will be easy for the electorate to identify him as a lawful soldier who is doing a lawful duty, not in a polling booth but at a distance far from where voting is taking place. ìAll intelligence I gathered I have shared with security agents. I have encouraged them not to be biased and to remain faithful to the Nigerian nation. We all have a duty to keep Nigeria going. We need a country to preside over and I have told the Brigade Commander that our people will not be intimidated. ìI have told him never to allow the deployment of soldiers who are not wearing Uniform because any other person can purport to be a security officer and go out to intimidate the electorate. The Armed Forces must be loyal to the Nigerian Nation. I remain Loyal to my nation. ìWhat is important in this election is the process. Huge resources have been deployed by INEC using tax payerís money to ensure that the election is free and fair. ìI believe all of us have done our very best to market our various candidates. It is time to allow the people to choose who they prefer and whoever they prefer must be accepted by all of us. Who wins this election is not as important as the process that produced the winner. I am more committed to my nation than I am to any individual, I ask all of us o imbibe the same spirit. ìI trust that the Nigerian Army will see beyond the occupant of any office and re-dedicate themselves to protection of the lives of the Nigerian people to freely choose who should be the next commander in chief. ìThe entire world is watching the nation. For the first time in the history of the country, a sitting America President has had to make a broadcast directed to Nigeria on the need to conduct free, fair and peaceful election and I believe that all of us small or big must listen. The African Union has sermonized to all of us ion the need to live together peacefully as the largest country in the continent. ìIn Edo State so far, people have reasonably behaved well so far such that we have not recorded any fatality or any one being shot at or killed in the course of the electioneering campaign. Everyone involved in this process deserves to be commended. As the people go to the polls tomorrow (today), I expect that once the politicians have finished campaigning and I expect by now that the electorate have made up their minds on who to vote for. What is important at this stage is to encourage Edo people to go out peacefully tomorrow in their various locations where they are registered to vote, equipped only with their permanent voters cards for the purpose of voting peacefully, staying behind to ensure the votes are counted peacefully and the results announced and return home peacefully. Election and voting is not war. The polling booth is not a war zone. Party agents are no army there to fight each other. They should be friends, brothers and sisters who share common passion for democracy and ensure that votes that the votes that will be counted by our people are properly counted and recorded and the winner announced. This is not war, we want to celebrate freedom, the right of the people to choose, the right to vote, the right to defend the vote and I urge our people to continue with the peaceful atmosphere that has so far characterized this exercise. ìI am happy that since 2011, the elections in Edo State have been largely peaceful and I believe the one of tomorrow will not be an exception. All the candidates that are vying for various positions are not as important as Nigeria. Nigeria is more important than any of the presidential candidate, than any of the senatorial candidates and other contestants. Therefore whereas we have right to express our preferences, we must recognize the right of any other person to express his right of preference. ìIn a democracy, the minority will have their say but the majority will have their way. I plead with Edo people to sustain the tradition of one man one vote. I trust that as peace loving people, our people will resist the temptation of doing anything that will breach the foundation of peace and security. All the candidate are Nigerians, their interest is Nigerians, it doesn’t matter who win, what matters is that everyone has the opportunity to vote for his preferred candidate and their votes are duly counted. ìThe two presidential candidates have publicly embraced peace and have both encouraged us as followers to maintain the peace. If our leaders, both President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan and General Muhamadu Buhari being the two leading candidates have encouraged of us to go out and vote peacefully and to conduct ourselves in an orderly manner, no one has any excuse to do otherwise. I encouraged our people to embrace peace. To go peacefully and vote and ensure their votes are counted and go back home peacefully. The country is greater than a candidate and I believe that Nigeria will emerge even stronger after tomorrowís (today) election regardless of the outcome. We have interacted with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from the explanation and to the extent that they will keep to those rules, I believe they have done everything possible to learn from the mistakes of the past, from the weaknesses of previous arrangement, we now have an arrangement that is better than what we have before. I am therefore confident that to the extent that INEC will enforce those rules strictly, I believe that Nigeria is about to celebrate free and fair elections that will restore our pride as the largest country on the African Continent. ìWe have had a robust conversation with the security agent on how to ensure that security is provided primarily by the Nigerian police and to be complimented by the Directorate of State Security Services. I have been informed by the Brigade Commander that Soldiers will be deployed to strategic locations only to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order. They are not expected and they will not be found at any polling booth or unit. ìTomorrow (Today), the world will be watching as we are casting our votes whether we are in a hurry to join the committee of civilized nations or we still want to be seen as a huge joke in the African Continent. In Edo State we are clear, we want to be known for whom we are; a civilized people committed to democracy in an election that is based on one man one vote. I ask our people to go out there and vote and be assured that those votes will be counted and the results will be declared. People have the right to watch after voting to ensure there is no malpractice. Once they have done this, the votes have been properly counted, the correct results have been announced, we are bound to accept the outcome. This is not the last election in our history, this is just one other election, let us see beyond it and look at the long term interest of our country. ìResist temptation to resort to violence. Anybody who has information about anyone who is in possession of fire arm or anyone who indulge in misuse of fire arm, any offensive weapon or anyone doing anything that will prevent peaceful voting should report to me or to any of the security agent. I assure the person that appropriate steps will be taken. While fielding questions from Journalists, Comrade Oshiomhole queried the rationale behind the donation of 14 Hilux Vans by the Israeli Firm, Reynold Construction Company, RCC through the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememe to the 4th Mechanized Brigade in this election period. Oshiomhole said, We have intelligence and it has been confirmed that the Honorable Minister of Work, Mr. Onolememe deployed 14 vehicles to the premises of RCC in Benin. These Hilux Vehicles were transferred from RCC premises yesterday (Friday) to the headquarters of the 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army. ìI have expressed my concerns to the Commander of the 4th Brigade that it was not appropriate for the 4th Brigade to collect vehicles from the ministry of works for the purpose of this election. The Commander of the 4th Brigade told me that the vehicles were donated by RCC because he approached RCC for support. Oshiomhole added, ìI told him that even that was wrong. The Brigade Commander cannot approach Israelis to provide them with security when Edo State Government is here. They have not made such request to me and I reminded him that the Israelis cannot have greater interest in the peace and security of Nigeria than the government of Edo State. ìI denounced the idea. The information we have is that these vehicles were provided by the Minister of Work but the Brigade Commander says it is the RCC. Whether or not it is RCC or the Minister, this is clearly irregular. I expect the Ministry of Work have donations to make, they should have been made transparency to the Nigerian Police, not the Nigerian Army because the conduct of this election is primarily the responsibility of the Nigerian Police and not the Nigerian Army. That they prefer to donate to the Army rather than the police raises more questions than the answers that have been provided and our investigation is that this Hilux Vehicles are going to be used to carry soldiers who will not be wearing uniforms to disguise with the intention to use them to intimidate the electorate but I have warned the Brigade Commander not to do such thing that Brigader Momoh did in Osun State. Nigerian Army has no business portraying itself as enemy of democracy. I know they are not and if there are some overzealous officers who want to do bad thing, I expect having raised the issue frankly with the Brigade Commander this morning with other Security Agents, I believe that the Brigade Commander is clear that the Army must not be seen as part of the Nigerian problem. The World is watching, if anyone can escape justice in Nigeria, the International Criminal Court is watching.

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