Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, has reiterated the stance of Nigerian armed forces to remain apolitical and professional during the 2023 general elections.

Irabor stated this when the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr Yakubu Maikyau, led members of the association on a courtesy visit to the Defence Headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said that the military had been working with the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide security during the election period.

“By virtue of our assessment, we have been able to put in place a contingent that will enable us to be of assistance to the police, if the need arises.

“We have also taken measures by virtue of focused training to ensure that, if the need be, we assist the police in the course of the election.

“Not only will we be professional, the armed forces remains apolitical and unbiased.

“That is the commitment that we are making to Nigerians; they should have faith in the declaration that we have made.

“We remain subject to the civil authority; we are men and women of the law, obeying the constitutions and ensuring that the democratic values are protected and advanced,” he said.

Irabor stressed that the armed forces had maintained an upward trajectory since 1999, adding that it had continued to evaluate itself on performances and the level it needs to attain.

He said that there was the need for partnership with organisations such as NBA for the greater good of the country.

According to Irabor, the involvement of the military in internal security operations may not be the best for democratic setting, but it has become expedient because of the dynamics of the security challenges currently being faced by Nigeria.

“It has become incumbent on us by virtue of the constitutional provisions that empowered Mr President to direct us to be part of the security provision within the internal space as we find it currently.

“This we will continue to do but we will like to assure you that, in no distant time, given the result that we have gotten thus far, we will see a gradual reduction of the military in internal security.

“This will give room for the police and other civil establishments to show greater prominence in addressing all the security concerns in the country.

“We are hoping that never again will we experience what we saw in the past where it appeared as if the nation’s security architecture was greatly in peril, to the extent that we almost became helpless,” Irabor said.

The defence chief called on NBA to do more in the adjudication of criminal justice in the prosecution of terrorism, insurgency and other related cases.

He said that NBA truly remained a partner because what the lawyers were doing had direct relationship with the country’s defence and security.

Earlier, the NBA president had commended the armed forces for the successes being recorded in the fight against insecurity across the country.

He said that members of the legal profession and those of the armed forces were meant to be natural partners by protecting the law and the territorial integrity of the nation.

Maikyau called on Nigerians to appreciate the sacrifices being made by the military personnel, saying that any institution responsible for keeping Nigeria secure and united must be appreciated by all.

He also called on the military to ensure utmost neutrality in the forthcoming general elections, urging it to remain unbiased in the discharge of its duties during the exercise.

On the prosecution of the suspected terrorists, the NBA president pledged to work with the military and the government to speedily dispense off the cases. (NAN)