Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President, intends to use a military operation code named ‘Operation Python Dance 3’ to rig the 2019 presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said.
Operation Python Dance is a military ‘show of strength‘ exercise the Nigerian Army used in silencing the growing influence of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East region of the country.
The first and second versions of the operation took place in the region between 2017 and 2018.
Announcing its planned third version on Friday, the military said the exercise would now be conducted nationwide and would commence from January 1, 2019 and last till February 28.
The presidential election is billed to take place on February 16.
The army said the military operation was needed to tackle already “observed upsurge” insecurity challenges anticipated before, during and after the 2019 general election.
But kicking against the timing of the exercise, the PDP alleged that Mr Buhari was plotting to use the planned nationwide military exercise to legitimise his administration’s alleged ploy of using the military to intimidate voters and rig next year’s presidential election.
“Our investigation shows that part of the plot is to use the military operation as a subterfuge to unleash heavy security presence to intimidate, harass and instil fear in voters in PDP strongholds across the country and pave the way for the allocation of fictitious votes to President Buhari and the APC,” the spokesman of the opposition party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement on Saturday.
“Further investigation revealed that agents of the Buhari Presidency are working in cohort with some compromised top officials of the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission to use soldiers to provide cover for diversion of electoral materials, as well as aid APC agents in their plan to unleash violence and disrupt the electoral process in areas where the PDP is winning.
“In spanning the military operation to February 28, 2019, the Buhari Presidency betrayed its anticipation of public rejection or violence, which can only come when a result that does not reflect the actual wish of the people is announced,” he said.
Ologbondiyan, who is also the Director, Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organization, said Nigerians are eager for a new president, having lost confidence in Buhari, due to his alleged failures in governance.
“The PDP PCO, therefore, rejects this deliberate attempt by the Buhari Presidency to set our military on a collision course with Nigerians, bearing in mind the collateral damage that usually occurs whenever the civilian population clashes with military.
“Our nation is a democratic state and we are not in a state of emergency that requires the militarization of our electoral process.
“Our military, which is cherished by Nigerians, should, therefore, foreclose any attempt by the Buhari Presidency to use it to set our country on fire.”