The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, has recognised the efforts of the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Idowu Owohunwa, in maintaining law and order in the aftermath of the recent presidential and National Assembly elections.
Baba, in his address during a meeting with strategic police managers in Abuja on Monday, ordered the commissioners of police of the 35 other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to follow suit ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state legislature polls
In a bid to douse the apparent tension, the Lagos police commissioner was described as having taken a consultative approach of late, organising an all-inclusive, stakeholder meeting.
Owohunwa reportedly succeeded in galvanising the citizens and strategic stakeholders to establish a common front to promote peace and address the post-election security threats and apprehension in the state.
“Drawing on the effectiveness of this strategy in Lagos State, I hereby direct all the Commissioners of Police across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT to return to their Commands and replicate the same initiative on or before Thursday, 9th March 2023 as part of efforts to guarantee peace ahead of the 11th March 2023 Elections,” Baba said.
Commending his officers, the Inspector General said local and international observers were encouraged by the election security service delivery during the February 25 polls, describing the performance as unprecedented.
Channels Television however reports that observers have made several allegations have been made of voter suppression, violence and collusion by security and electoral personnel, many of which have been described as disturbing.
According to Baba, of the about 185 major incidents that the police responded to across the country during the elections, a total of 203 offenders linked to various electoral offences and sundry crimes have so far been arrested.
He added that no less than 18 firearms of various descriptions were recovered from political thugs during the exercise.
“All the cases are at various stages of investigations at the Nigeria Police Electoral Offences Desks and I assure you that in due course they will be concluded and processed to the Legal Department of the Independent National Electoral Commission for prosecution,” the IGP said.
See the full statement below:
REMARKS BY IGP USMAN ALKALI BABA, psc(+), NPM, NEAPS, fdc, CFR AT THE MEETING WITH STRATEGIC POLICE MANAGERS ON MONDAY, 6TH MARCH, 2023 AT THE PEACEKEEPING CENTRE, FORCE HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA
I welcome you all to this crucial meeting which was convened for three critical objectives.
2. First, is to interface with and debrief strategic field officers who directly coordinated our election security operations across all the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT during the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections. This is towards drawing on their practical experiences for informed feedbacks that will aid us in evaluating our operational performance and identifying logistics gaps and other challenges that might have been experienced during the exercise.
3. Second is to assess the security situation at all levels in the immediate aftermath of the 25th February, 2023 sets of elections. This is with a view to identifying trends and patterns within the post-election security space, and draw inferences on possible threats that may require mitigation ahead of the next rounds of the national electoral process on 11th March, 2023.
4. The third focus of this election security review Conference is to draw on our rich and diverse professional experiences in perfecting our Action Plan for the upcoming Governorship and State Assembly elections on 11th March, 2023 and guaranteeing a stable internal security order ahead of the electoral exercise across the country.
5. Democracy is a dynamic process. Election security governance practice is similarly dynamic. By implication, as our democratic culture evolves, the security framework that aids in the advancement of the process must also be continually perfected. As the lead agency in the election security framework, therefore, it is natural that the citizens will continually demand of us a high level security architecture that will deepen their trust and confidence in the electoral process.
6. Consequently, we remain duty bound to re-commit ourselves to pathways that will incrementally strengthen our operational capacity and professional knowledge in navigating through the complex dynamics of our electoral process as we strive to police our democratic heritage and meet the expectations of the electorates.
7. In this regard, while the Presidential and National Assembly elections might have presented varying degrees of challenges as captured in the Post-Election Operations feedback that have been received across the various Police Commands, I am delighted to note with a high level of satisfaction, the resilience and utmost professionalism which you all displayed in the course of your election security operations.
8. I am particularly elated that you situated your operations strictly within the context of the Reviewed Standard Operational Guidelines and Rules for Police Officers and Other Security Agents on Electoral Duties which was issued to all officers in the countdown to the election operations.
9. I am also excited that you all maintained a high level of civility and situated your operations within the dictates of rule of law. Yet, you remained apolitical, firm and supportive of the Independent National Electoral Commission and sacrificed to create an enabling environment for the law abiding electorates to peacefully exercise their franchise while denying space for electoral adversaries to manifest their ill-intentions to threaten the overall process.
10. Even more soothing is the feedback received to the effect that you responded promptly and courageously to most of the breaches that were recorded and largely mitigated them with the highest level of self-restraint and best global policing standard in the circumstance.
11. In your quest to maintain order within the electoral space, you succeeded on a commendable scale in stabilizing such threatened space, safely rescued several INEC officials and citizens that were under threats, secured sensitive materials, made series of recoveries including arms and ammunition of various descriptions as well as effected, in the most professional manner, the arrest of several electoral adversaries nationwide.
12. In this regard, of the about one hundred and eighty-five (185) major incidents that the Police responded to across the country during the elections, a total of two hundred and three
(203) offenders linked to various electoral offences and sundry crimes have so far been arrested, while not less than eighteen (18) firearms of various descriptions were recovered from political thugs during the exercise. All the cases are at various stages of investigations at the Nigeria Police Electoral Offences
Desks and I assure you that in due course they will be concluded and processed to the Legal Department of the Independent National Electoral Commission for prosecution.
13. Our outstanding performance is, indeed, evidenced by the fact that for the first time in the election security history of our beloved country, the Nigeria Police has been widely insulated from accusations that usually accompany any electoral cycle. We have, rather, been receiving accolades and encouragements from both local and international election observers for our unprecedented quality election security service delivery. This much was re-echoed by the African Union Commission (AUC)
Election Observer Mission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and several other credible national and international sources.
14. All of these are not only reflective of the pre-election security operations trainings that most personnel of the Force were exposed to, it is also a product of the meticulous planning, massive operational assets and logistics procurement and deployment process as well as the prioritization of the welfare requirements of personnel deployed on the election duties.
15. Most fundamentally, your excellent performance is clearly indicative of your compliance with my strategic and operational directives which were predicated on the charge of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure a peaceful and secure electoral process as well as a firm, but apolitical disposition that will engender a free, fair, and credible 2023 General Elections.
16. For your loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice, and professionalism, I wish to use this forum to convey my sincere appreciation and commendation to you here seated and indeed, to the entire Nigeria Police family, the Military, Intelligence Community and all other complementary Services that supported us in the exercise. In so doing, however, I must be quick to remind you of the common saying that ‘the reward for hard work is more work’.
17. While we would utilize this gathering to re-energize our operational plan and strengthen the attainment of our election security mandate as we prepare for the Governorship and State Assembly phase of the General of Elections on 11th March, 2023, I charge you all to recommit yourselves to national duty and sustain the high operational level that is attracting broad commendation to the Force.
18. You must be prepared to work more assiduously towards providing the requisite strategic leadership in your various posts for your personnel in guaranteeing an electoral and general public space that will remain stable, peaceful and secure enough to keep citizens in no doubt of our unwavering commitment to their yearnings for a credible electoral process as we cap up the 2023 General Elections in a few days’ time.
19. The starting point to this is to ensure that the tension which the process and outcome of the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly Elections generated is mitigated proactively and well-enough to ensure that it does not snowball into a national security breach nor impact negatively on our democratic achievements. This is more so that some unpatriotic elements have been attempting to negatively utilize the social media to post fake news, videos and other materials with the sole intent of heating up the polity, fueling political bitterness, and enflaming the national security space.
20. Towards dousing this tension, I take particular cognizance of the initiative of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who in engaging a consultative approach recently organized an allinclusive, stakeholders meeting where he succeeded in galvanizing the citizens and strategic stakeholders in evolving a common front to advocate for peace and address the postelection security threats and apprehension in the State.
21. Drawing on the effectiveness of this strategy in Lagos State, I hereby direct all the Commissioners of Police across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT to return to their Commands and replicate the same initiative on or before Thursday, 9th March 2023 as part of efforts to guarantee peace ahead of the 11th March 2023 Elections.
22. At this juncture, I wish to once again, reassure all the citizens of this nation and the international community of our willingness to draw on the experience and lessons from the just concluded elections towards strengthening our capacity and operational architecture for the Governorship and State Assembly elections. In perfecting this, we solicit the continuous understanding and support of all, particularly, all political actors across all party lines and the electorates to ease our task by committing to exercise their franchise within the dictates of the Electoral Act, overriding national security consideration, and our democratic interests.
23. I also admonish parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards to resist the urge of being recruited as cannon folders or destabilizing agents to disrupt our electoral process. The Nigeria Police under my watch will be unsparing of such elements and their sponsors. As often said, ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed’.
24. I also wish to appeal to media practitioners to demonstrate patriotism and always place national security interests over and above other considerations at this stage in our nation’s evolution. This places on them the obligation of resisting the urge to use their platforms to propagate fake news and threaten peace and security in the polity.
25. On this note, I welcome you all to this Conference and look forward to a professionally rewarding engagement, even as I pray that Almighty Allah (SWT) should continue to strengthen you all as you sacrifice for the protection and advancement of our democratic heritage.
26. Thank you all for your rapt attention