Nigerian army denies plan to 'subvert' democracy‏

LAGOS – The Nigerian army insisted on Wednesday that it remains apolitical, reiterating its commitment to strengthening the nation's democracy.

"The leadership, in particular, the chief of defense staff and the service chiefs, being products and beneficiaries of the nation's democratic processes themselves, continue to cherish highly the nation's democracy," army spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a Wednesday statement.

"[Nigerian military authorities] will not engage in, condone or encourage any act that has the capacity to undermine or subvert any aspect of the democratic process," he added.

The army has recently come under fire for postponing a Feb. 14 general election on security grounds.

The opposition, for its part, accuses the military of entering into an "unholy alliance" with the ruling party with the aim of derailing the democratic process.

"Nigerians and the friends of the country should be reassured that the Nigerian Armed Forces believes strongly in the prospects of the country under democratic rule and will continue to discharge its responsibility to support our democracy as constitutionally guaranteed," said Olukolade.

He insisted the army remained apolitical and should be insulated from party politics, stressing that any officer caught undermining the democratic process would be punished.

"It is also important to reassure Nigerians that the military will – while working with all security agencies and stakeholders in the process – remain professional, apolitical and non-partisan in all operations and activities related to this crucial exercise," Olukolade said.

The spokesman added: "No excuse will be acceptable for any act of commission or omission that tends to compromise the law or the electoral process, as well as decent conduct or judgment on the part of any service personnel while discharging duties related to elections."

Citing advice from security agencies, Nigeria's official electoral commission decided late Saturday to postpone the upcoming presidential and parliamentary vote to March 28.

Although a total of 14 candidates will vie for the presidency, the poll is largely seen as a race between incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari is running on the ticket of the opposition APC, an amalgam of political interests that have come together in an attempt to wrest power from Jonathan's ruling PDP, which has ruled the country since its return to democracy in 1999.

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