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VC defends deployment of military for polls, police raise special squads


AJIENKATHE University of Port Harcourt Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, has described the outcry in some quarters against the deployment of military during the forthcoming general elections as “mischievous and an over politicization of national security.”

Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Tunde Ogunsakin, has directed all state police commissioners under his command to constitute special squads each on electoral offences and transfer all electoral offenders to his office in Calabar during and after the elections.

Ajienka said the fact that the 2015 general election will be the most contentious in recent times, given the fact that the process so far has been characterized by acrimonious feuds, hate speeches and threats from overzealous party supporters who have deepened regional, ethnic and religious divides, makes it imperative for government to adequately deploy security agents during the election.

He stated this in his keynote address titled: “Towards a secure, credible and peaceful general election”, which he delivered at a workshop organized by the Zonal Command of the Nigeria Police in Port Harcourt yesterday.

Present at the event were the Commissioners of Police in Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and River states, and a representative of the Cross River State governor. Other governors in the zone did not attend the event.

The vice chancellor who was represented by the Dean of Social Sciences, Prof. Henry Alapiki, argued that besides the fact that evidence of pre-election violence abound, Nigeria remains a nation at war, because the Boko Haram insurgency still poses a threat to peace and security in the North-east states, and indeed the adjourning states of the north, given the increasing spate of suicide bombings as a desperate response to the gains of the military.

As a consequence of this, he insisted that the deployment of security personnel to maintain internal security and secure the territorial integrity of the country is non-negotiable. He castigated the call against deployment of the military during the elections, adding that at best, the opposition should ask for strategic deployment of the military and other security agents away from the polling units.

To buttress his support for the full deployment of security personnel during election, Ajienka argued that tensions and factional feud within and between the two main political parties could degenerate into violence during the elections.

According to him, strong disagreements also exist in the face of competing claims to the presidency between northern politicians and their Niger Delta counterparts, and this could result in violence in either or both regions, particularly after the elections. He advised security agencies not to ignore threats made by some elements in both regions.

The don explained that the 2015 election will be particularly challenging and closely fought because it is the first post- independence nationwide electoral contest, especially between two major political parties, viz the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ajienka demanded that security agents must be seen to be free, fair, and impartial in their handling of election related matters, such as maintenance of law and order during political rallies and campaign, protection of life and property on election day and ensuring orderly conduct at polling units as well as ensuring public peace after the election.

Ogunsakin explained that as part of a wider strategy to ensure that electoral offenders are dealt with decisively, upon assumption of office as the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar, he had to set up a special investigation team to deal with electoral complaints and offences.

He said as a body constitutionally charged with the responsibility of maintaining and ensuring public security and order, it is incumbent on the police to promote a discourse aimed at not only ensuring that the 2015 general elections are conducted in a secure, credible and peaceful manner, but allay the fear and apprehension currently being expressed that Nigeria would be plunged into anarchy, chaos and violence after the polls.

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