The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Kenneth Minimah, has said that it is the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)? and not the military that will decide if elections will hold or not in the recently liberated areas from terrorists sect, Boko Haram in the North East.
An elated Minimah who expressed happiness that the Nigerian Armed Forces have recovered all but three of the territories taken over by Boko Haram, told State House correspondents after the Security Council meeting which lasted for about five hours, that (INEC) still has to evaluate the situation before deciding whether or not to proceed with the elections in those areas.
He said though the territories have been re-taken structures of government and governance still needed to be reinstated, adding however that the decision to hold elections in those areas still had to be made by the INEC.
Minimah said at the meeting, council gave a vote of confidence on the military following the successful anti-terrorism operations in the North east with only three local governments in Borno State remaining to be liberated from the clutches of Boko Haram.
“Council reviewed the North East operations particularly in the last three weeks and Council renewed its confidence in the Nigerian Armed Forces and commended them too.
“You know Yobe and Adamawa States have been liberated completely and we look forward to the reinstatement of structures of government and governance.
“I am also sure you know that in Borno State out of the 27 local government we have three local governments remaining, Abadam, Kalabaldi and Gwoza and we optimistic that with time we will liberate those local governments.
“I am not competent to speak on the elections. INEC is still there. INEC has to re-access the situation and evaluate because the areas have been liberated.
“But I can also tell you that not all structures of governance have been reinstated and they will need to be reinstated so that citizens can go back to their areas and it is then I think they can execute their rights as voters. How soon? I don’t know” he said.
Asked if the military operations could be concluded before March 28th, the army chief said “it is our wish and we pray God gives that to us, but war is war. War sometimes is not fought on some platforms of permutations.”
Minimah further clarified that the mop up operations in the liberated areas had still did not yielded any clues as to whether the abducted Chibok girls were kept there before they moved or not.
According to him “No news for now. In all the liberated areas we have, we have also made enquiries but the truth is when the terrorists are running away they also run with their families.
“And those we have come in contact have not made any comments suggesting that Chibok girls were there and taken away.
“But we are optimistic that as the war gets closer, the territory is becoming elusive to them (terrorists) and we will get further details on that.”