In an opinion piece published on Friday, human rights lawyer Femi Falana urged President Muhammadu Buhari to demilitarize Nigeria and have soldiers return to their barracks ahead of the upcoming elections.
Falana described the current situation as “anti-democratic” and argued that civilian authorities should conduct and oversee the electoral processes at all levels. He cited past cases where the courts had ruled against military involvement in politics.
Falana emphasized that the armed forces should not be involved in the conduct of elections and that soldiers should not terrorize voters. Instead, they should be confined to their barracks and put on alert.
To maintain law and order during the 2023 General Election, Falana suggested that the Inspector-General of Police deploy police, anti-graft agencies, and paramilitary forces, as the Federal Government had already restricted the movement of people throughout the country.
Furthermore, Falana reminded President Buhari of the warning given by the Court of Appeal in Yussuf v Obasanjo (supra), which stated that the police should protect Nigeria’s nascent democracy rather than the military.
Falana concluded that democracy must not be militarized, as this was not what the Nigerian people had bargained for in 1999 when they wrested power from the military.