The Nigerian Army (NA) has warned politicians in Sokoto state that interference with ongoing exercise Egwu Eke III would not be tolerated.
The spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sani Usman in a statement yesterday said, the army has resolved to hold on to any arrested criminal or armed thug till the end of the elections.
He said, "Undue pressure and attempts to interfere with the conduct of the exercise for selfish reasons are indeed worrisome and disturbing and will not be tolerated."
He explained that troops of 8 Division, Nigerian Army, on Exercise Egwu Eke III in conjunction with other security agencies recovered dangerous weapons from criminals and political thugs in Sokoto State.
He noted that on Saturday January 2, troops on joint stop and search patrol with other security agencies arrested 16 people believed to be political thugs armed with dangerous weapons along Illela-Danfulani-Gwadabawa road.
He said, "The suspects were arrested armed with 27 axes and 16 customized sticks. While still conducting the search, a prominent politician in the state and a serving Senator, came to the scene and ordered his mobile police escorts to release them."
Usman who did not disclose the name of the Senator added that, "In the process, the Department of State Service operative was molested and his clothes torn. The patriotic and professional officer still held on to the seized weapons."
He also said another prominent politician from Zamfara State had earlier tried to influence the investigation of arrested armed political thugs.
He noted that the Army has been professional, impartial and apolitical since the operationalization of the Exercise in January 2019.
He said, "We have arrested thugs armed with dangerous weapons across the various political parties, without fear or favour."
"The thugs were documented and handed over to the police. We have noted with great concern that such criminals usually find themselves back into the society without any sanction," he added.
He said, "We would like to reiterate our commitment to creating a conducive and secured environment for the smooth and peaceful conduct of the forthcoming general elections in the country.
"Therefore, we would not tolerate any undue interference from any quarters in the discharge of this noble responsibility," he said.
Usman said all Commanders have been further directed to continue to carry out their duties diligently, despite the provocation from some misguided elements.