How security agencies encourage thuggery, ballot snatching, by INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the inability of security agencies to act decisively and collaborate effectively with one another usually encourages thuggery and violence during elections. The commission also said the attitude of laying more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed and giving less consideration to strategic deployment had made the entire electoral process more vulnerable.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this yesterday during the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. In attendance was the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu; National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), who is the Co-chair of ICCES; Director General of the Department of State Service, Yusuf Bichi; Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu; Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye and representatives of other security agencies.
Yakubu stressed the need to adopt a different approach to election security, which according to him, should be translated to reality in the forthcoming January 25 re-run elections in the country. The INEC boss said: “It is the responsibility of the security agencies to secure the environment for the successful conduct of elections. The purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials, accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collations centres.
“The Commission is concerned that security deployment in some of the most recent elections left much to be desired. There is more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed, but less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process, leaving the voters, election officials, party agents, observers, the media and even unarmed security personnel at polling units vulnerable to attacks by thugs and hoodlums.
“Furthermore, there is emphasis on numbers of security personnel, but less on synergy, coordination and collaboration among the various security agencies in line with the purpose for which ICCES was established in the first instance. “We must adopt a different approach to election security. We must translate the new approach to reality in the forthcoming re-run elections such that Nigerians will see a qualitatively different security arrangement.
“No thugs and hoodlums can be more powerful than the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. It is the failure to act decisively and collaboratively that encourages thuggery and serves as an incentive for bad behaviour.”Yakubu declared that the even though the Commission has no power under the law to cancel an election, it would not proceed with the process in any constituency where the safety of voters, its personnel and materials is threatened and collation of results would not proceed where the collation centres are invaded, adding: “No declaration of winners will be made where Returning Officers are threatened.”
He said INEC would continue to pursue the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal, noting: “Unless such decisive measure is taken, the present system of arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders will remain at best palliative.”Speaking, however, Adamu said no tout disrupt elections offence without connivance with security agents, INEC officials and the politicians. “No tout can be greater than any security agents. We all know our responsibility. When we work together, we can thwart any threats on the Election Day,” Adamu said. He, therefore, called for collaboration among security agencies and officials of the Commission.
On his part, Monguno reiterate the present administration’s commitment to conduct free and credible elections, saying: “There must be consequences for bad behaviour and this does not only relate to thugs, criminals, outlaws or people who just want to upset the entire system, but our own elements, agents, who either by design or default, would want to scuttle this process must be brought to book.
“For the first time in the history of this country, we must be able to carry through to a logical conclusion, any acts that are contrary to what the state has placed. Anybody who behaves outside the confines of legitimacy would be dealt with. “We want to provide every voter an atmosphere that allows him or her to exercise his or her right without feeling of intimidation.”
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