Less than 12 days to General Election, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba has said that the Police is aware that the Oduduwa Nation Agitators have been amassing weapons and mobilizing resources towards disrupting the peace, security and electoral process in the South West geo-political zone.
Speaking at a strategic meeting he held with Command Police Commissioners, Zonal AIGs and Deputy Inspector’s General of Police on Monday in Abuja, the IGP said, “Furthermore, Illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) trafficking are being utilized to advance political violence, political extremism and intolerance, while cyber-bullying for political ends is on the rise daily. Also, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, and thuggery some of which have political undertones or consequences constitute major security threats to our democracy.
“Similarly, violent secessionist campaigns by IPOB/ESN members which have been targeted at various symbols of democratic governance including INEC assets, Police Stations and personnel as well as other security agencies and Federal Government infrastructures, all in an effort to disrupt the 2023 General Elections in the South East geopolitical zone.
“Other crimes of national security importance which could undermine our efforts towards entrenching a peaceful electioneering process, if not adequately curtailed include Banditry/Terrorism which has ravaged many communities in the North-west and North-Central with adverse effects on the economic and social wellbeing of the residents.
“Other major crimes are the growing activities of the Oduduwa Nation Agitators who, from intelligence sources, have been attempting to amass weapons and mobilize other resources towards disrupting the peace, security and electoral process in the South West geo-political zone.”
The IGP however charged the Police Strategic Commanders to ensure they stabilize the internal security order and create an enabling space for the peaceful conduct of the electoral process.
He said, “Despite the foregoing, the Nigeria Police Force has the responsibility to stabilize the internal security order within the country before, during and after the elections. Consequently, I am reiterating that you ensure no political actor or miscreant is able to subdue any part of the civil space under your Command.
“Beyond these mandates, under the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), the Nigeria Police is primarily responsible for securing the public space and the territorial integrity of the country before, during and after the elections and this remains sacrosanct. This includes working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other intelligence and security agencies in the country, including both local and foreign observers, towards delivering a peaceful, free, fair and credible election.
“Further to this, you are to preclude the activities of quasi-security agents, who may be employed by politicians, from participating in the electoral process. Likewise, ensure that you closely monitor the illicit activities of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), “Amotekun”, “Ebube-Agu” and Hunter’s Association and other State-owned security outfits with a view to checkmating their activities within your jurisdictions.
Reiterating that “national security interest overrides our personal considerations and desires, he said, “Accordingly, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, I must therefore stress and warn, that as much as we will Police the election in the most civil and rule of law compliant manner, we shall remain apolitical and leave no one in doubt of our desire to give effect to the charge of Mr. President to ensure free, fair and credible elections across the nation.
“To ensure that our personnel and other security Agencies to be deployed for the elections have a clear knowledge of their roles and operate within acceptable legal and ethical standards which are in line with international best practices, I have directed the distribution of the recently compiled and printed handbooks titled, ‘Revised Standard Operational Guidelines/Rules for Police Officers and Other Law Enforcement Agents on Election Security Duties”.
Speaking during the commissioning of critical operational assets procured for the Police and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, the IGP said were procured as part of the broad strategic plan of the Force towards stabilizing the security space before, during and after the 2023 General Elections and for purpose of enhancing the capacity of the Nigeria Police to manage civil disorder in line with acceptable national legal framework and global law enforcement protocols.
The assets comprise of 88 Pick-Up Patrol Vans; 21 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs); 9 Prado Jeeps; 1 Coaster Bus; 10 Water Cannon Trucks; 2 Rapid Razor Security Wires Dispensing Trucks; 9,607 Bullet Proof Vests/Plates; 2,055 Ballistic Helmets; 140,571 Long/Short Range Tear Gas Cell; 1,248 Anti-Riot Helmets; 3,000 Hand Grenades; 30 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs); 1,502 Stun Guns and AK47 Rifles with Assorted calibers of live ammunition; 300 HP Desktop Computers; 250 HP Laptop Computers; 150 3 Gubabi Fire Proof Safe; 100 Dragon Fire Proof Safe; and 150 Individual Filling Cabinets.
The IGP said, “The acquisition of these items is to demonstrate the determination of the Force leadership to advance Mr. President’s commitment to a reformed, modernized, fully equipped, highly-motivated and citizens-focused Police Force that is re-oriented to the virtues of professionalism, respect for rule of law, due process, operational efficiency and best international practices in our internal security mandates.