Edo Sate Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Friday faulted the Brigade Commander, 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin City, Brig.-Gen.Olajide Laleye, for allegedly soliciting and receiving from the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, 14 Toyota Hilux vehicles, for the purpose of elections monitoring.
The governor, who frowned at the gesture while speaking with journalists shortly after holding security meeting with security chiefs in the state, also raised alarm on the alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the election in the state, using some military men on mufti.
He said: “We have intelligence and it has been confirmed that the Minister of Works, deployed 14 vehicles in the premises of RCC construction Company Benin. This Hilux vehicles about 13 of them, were transferred from RCC premises to the headquarters of the 4th Brigade of the Nigerian army. I have expressed my concern to the Commander of the 4th Brigade that I did not think it was 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 the RCC because he approached RCC for support. I told him even that is wrong. The Brigade Commander cannot approach Israelis to provide them with security when the Edo State government is here. He has not made such a request to me and I reminded him that Israeli people cannot be assumed to have greater interest in the peace and security of Nigeria than the government of Edo state.
“After all we set up Operation Thunder Storm which encourages the military to compliment the efforts of the police. I denounced the idea. Whether RCC or Minister of Works, this is clearly irregular.
“I expect that the Ministry of Works if they have donations to make it should have been made transparently 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.
“Our investigation is that these Hilux vehicles provided by Onolemenmen or by RCC according to the Brigade Commander, are going to be used to carry soldiers who will not be wearing uniforms to disguise and our information is that they intend to use these people to intimidate the electorate. I have warned the Brigade Commander not to do the sort of thing that Brigadier Momoh did Ekiti State. In any case Edo people are Edo people and we cannot be intimidated. And the Nigerian Army has no business portraying itself as enemies of democracy.
“I know they are not if there are some overzealous officers who wants to do negative things I expect that haven raised the issue, frankly with the Brigade Commander this morning in the presence of other security chiefs, I believe it is clear that the Army must not be seen to be part of Nigerian problem, the world is watching. I have also told them that if anybody is killed by anybody in uniform in the course of trying to do what is unlawful, it is not my statement, the International Criminal Court agents are in Nigeria, if anybody can escape justice in Nigeria, you cannot escape justice from the International Criminal Court.
“The world has changed that anybody who misused his office cannot escape justice, this is said directly to the Brigade Commander and other security chiefs. I have also informed him of the Brigadier General Odidi who was earlier transferred from the Electrical Engineering Command of the Nigerian Army in Auchi but he was brought back. He is openly canvassing for PDP that soldiers are paid by PDP so they should work for PDP.
“This I told the Brigade Commander. To draw the attention of Odidi that the responsibility of the Army is not to canvass votes of work against any particularly political party. I have voiced out the dangers of doing that, Brig. Odidi is from Agenebode because if he misbehaves I have told him the consequences.
“Yesterday (Thursday), they searched the residence of APC chairman at Orhiomwon, they have penciled down the names of APC leaders to be arrested. I have told them that our people must vote freely”, Gov. Oshiomhole stated.