The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Chris Musa on Friday, October 27, warned those poised to torment trouble due to the forthcoming governorship elections on Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states to start clear of the states as they will be met with the full weight of the law.
The two security chiefs spoke just as the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu said President Bola Tinubu has ordered that everything possible should be done to ensure that the elections in the three states are free, fair, and credible, without any form of interference.
While Egbetokun said police and other security agencies are monitoring activities of those planning to torment trouble in the three states, Gen Musa said a general court-martial has been placed on standby for security personnel who may compromise their position during the elections.
Addressing newsmen after a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) compromising the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security chief, Egnetokun said the police were aware that supporters of some candidates in the election were already mobilising to torment trouble during the elections.
At the meeting, the INEC Chairman expressed concern about the violent activities of party supporters in the three states.
The IGP said: “We have just concluded the ICCES meeting with INEC. This election is an off-season election and we are committed to making it a free and fair election. The security agencies are ready for this election. We have received all the necessary information from INEC which has informed us where to deploy during this election.
“We have carried out our threat assessment and that has informed us where to allocate our resources and the deployment of our men. All the security agencies are collaborating seriously to ensure that this election is violence-free.
“My appeal to people who want to come out and make trouble during this election is for them to stay away from the election because there will be no place for them to operate.
“We are aware of mobilisation by supporters of some candidates. We are already monitoring them and we are ready for them during this election. I appeal to those who just want to come out and disrupt this election to stay away.
“I appeal to the electorates to come out en masse to cast their vote during this election. We are committed to a peaceful election and there is no going back on that.”
On deployment by the police for the election, the Police boss said “We have our figures and we are not going to make it public. We have given that detail of deployment at the meeting, but it is not for the media.”
Asked which of the states appear. More. Challenging, he said: “All the states have challenges and we are taking care of the challenges”
He assured that accredited Journalists will be protected and given everything they deserve during the election and so, you have nothing to fear.
Speaking on why the police! Is holding its annual retreat in Owerri, Imo state, Egbetokun said: “The conference and retreat we are having in Owerri is an annual event and our choice of Owerri is deliberate because of this election.
“We want to send a message to the people of Imo state that the state is safe for them and encourage the voters to come out in large numbers. We are deploying massively to Imo state to ensure that the election is free and fair.
“The presence of security agents is not to scare the people, but those involved in crime. When we deploy for this election, our intention is to give confidence to the electorates and not to scare them”.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff said other security agencies will fully be on the ground to assist the Police in delivering a credible election, saying, “We are here fully to show collaboration, cooperation and support for the Police who are the lead agency in election security.
“The armed forces are going to provide full comprehensive support to ensure that the police is able to do its job without any interference.
“We want to show the people in those three states that there is no need to entertain any fear as the armed forces, the police, and other security agents will be fully on the ground.
“All Nigerians are tired of election violence and we intend to do things differently so that at the end of the day, every Nigerian will be proud to be a Nigeria and come to the realisation that election is now free and fair and everybody that wins an election should be proud that he won a free and fair election.
“We have fully deployed and are on the ground both covertly and overtly. Anybody who attempts to disrupt any of the elections will have himself to blame”.
General Musa warned security agents involved in the elections not to compromise their position, but abide by the code of conduct given to them
He said: “The security men know the code of conduct and what they are supposed to do and we have explained to them.
“We have sent warnings and have court-martial on standby and any member of the armed forces who misbehave will have himself to blame. The court-martial is operational already and we want to ensure that we act professionally in everything that we do”.
On his part, the National Security Adviser who is the co-chairman of ICCES, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu assured that the election will be conducted without any form of interference as directed by the President.
Ribadu said: “We are prepared and will be with you 100 percent and will work to meet the standard that you want us to meet. There is nothing as important as a free and fair election in a democracy.
“This government is interested in that and Mr President has directed that he wants to see a free, fair and credible election. This is the first election that is going to be held under his watch.
“He said everything possible should be done to ensure that Nigerians witness a free and fair election. I want to assure Nigerians that this election will be better than the previous ones. This election is going to be without violence and a litmus test for us.”
Speaking earlier, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said about elections will. Be conducted in about 10,510 polling units across the three states with about 5.1 million registered voters who have collected their PVC eligible to vote.
He said further that eligible voters in the three states will vote in all the 10,510 polling units, with the exception of 2 polling units in Bayelsa State and 38 in Imo State without registered voters.
While saying that the list of these polling units is available on the commission’s website, he disclosed that election results will be collated in 649 Registration Areas/Wards, 56 Local Government Areas and three State collation centres.
He said: “This gives us a cumulative figure of 11,178 voting and collation locations to deploy security personnel in the three States. This is in addition to ensuring a secure environment for the ongoing campaigns and rallies by political parties and candidates, security of voters, the escort of personnel and materials, protection of assets, and general security for all persons with a legitimate reason to participate in the election and electoral activities.”
He stressed that “the three States of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi are not the easiest States in Nigeria to conduct elections. The difficult geographical terrain and prevailing insecurity are compounded by negative mobilisation by political actors, especially since the commencement of the campaign in public on 14th July 2023.
“Our message to politicians is that they should call their candidates and supporters to order. Violence and other undemocratic activities such as vote buying, attacks on election officials, and disruption of the electoral process must stop.
“However, the ultimate responsibility for election security lies with the security agencies. Our message to the security agencies is to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence.
“This is the surest way to guarantee a safe environment for the peaceful conduct of elections and electoral activities. In doing so, security personnel on electoral duty should remain neutral and committed to the established professional code of conduct and rules of engagement.”