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Why we remove, redeploy commissioners of police few days to elections – IGP

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
01 December 2022   |   12:58 pm
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has given insights into reasons state commissioners of police are usually removed and redeployed a few days before elections.

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has given insights into reasons state commissioners of police are usually removed and redeployed a few days before elections.

The IGP specifically said the move was to avoid possible manipulation of the elections by police chiefs who might have been compromised by governors to rig elections.

The IGP stated this on Wednesday at the 2022 Annual Political Parties Summit organised by Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC)
National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Abuja.

Recall that ahead of the general elections in 2019, the Police Service Commission (PSC) approved the recommendation of the then IGP for the redeployment of 37 Command Commissioners of Police for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja just a week to the election.

The move generated public outcry while opposition political parties described such action as a threat to the nation’s democracy.

Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had in many fora frowned at the continued redeployment of heads of security agencies days before elections in the country, saying such action hampers the effective execution of mutually developed election project plans.

But defending the action at the political summit, the IGP represented by Deputy-Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of operations, DanDaura Mustapha, said it is a standard practice in the police to replace officers that might comprise the electoral process.

He explained: “In terms of redeployment, during a seminar or conference in Owerri, they raised a concern that why is it that it is during election times we normally remove some of these commissioners of police and redeploy them.

“One, if a Commissioner of Police is very much conversant with the state and he or she is very close to His Excellency, there is an attendant tendency that he can easily be manipulated. If we realize that, and we have seen signs and evidence that the Commissioner of Police has compromised, we will allow him but once it is just two to three days to the election, we will withdraw him and put in a neutral person that will go and work for the interests of all the political parties.

“That is our plan. We have been doing it and we will not stop doing it. Once you are identified to compromise, then you cannot be allowed to conduct that election. As I said earlier, the Commissioner of Police is under the supervision of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police. So when the time comes, we shift them and we will put people in the right places, but where we discover that the CP is competent and there’s no complaint against him from the opposition, we will allow him to do his work because he is conversant with the state and terrain.

“So posting of Commissioner of police and other senior officers during the election period is continuous. We’ll continue to do it once we receive a complaint in order to wash our hands that we’re not involved in any partisan politics.

The IGP also directed that no account should any Commissioner of Police allow a sitting governor to stop other political parties from conducting their campaigns in all the nooks and crannies of any state.

He said, “This instruction is very clear both in writing and verbally. The Commissioners of Police have been directed to arrest all the hoodlums who disrupt political campaign rallies irrespective of where (party) they belong or whoever is sponsoring them.

“We will arrest and charge them to court. So, please be rest assured that all political parties you are free to go about your campaigns. You are free to go and enter any local government or village to conduct your campaign freely and we’re going to give all political parties and candidates enough security.”

Speaking, former Senate President and one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, took a swipe at political parties in the country, saying most of them have become mere platforms for powerful politicians to grab power at the detriment of the people.

Delivering a keynotes address, Anyim specifically said jettisoning of zoning arrangements by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP during the presidential primaries and subsequent adoption of the Muslim-Muslim ticket by the All Progressives Congress, APC, were devoid of social justice.

According to him, the political parties pose a persistent threat to the country’s democracy due to their failure to activate mechanisms to ensure social justice and equality in their internal affairs.

While insisting that any weakness in the country’s democratic practice started with the political parties, the ex-senate President attributed the recent squabble trailing the PDP, and the APC, to their failure to operate within the norms of democratic principles.

He explained: “The complaints of the G-5 Governors of PDP is not that the party primary election was faulty but that the pre and post-primary processes did not guarantee justice to them.

“In APC also, the Christian caucus is also aggrieved owing to perceived injustice following the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Let me, therefore, say that any failure of democracy starts with the political parties.

“In view of the above, I can safely say that the political parties in Nigeria have helplessly become a platform for powerful politicians to grab power at the detriment of the people.

“The expectation generally is that since the country has embraced democracy, its political parties should as a matter of ideology adopt democratic norms in the administration and management of their party affairs. However, the lack of internal democracy in Nigerian political parties has become a persistent threat to the country’s democracy.

“Various political parties have repeatedly failed to adopt and apply the provisions of their constitution to all party members who are interested in running for office.”

Nonetheless, Anyim disclosed that there is an organised demand that the political parties must not only see the conduct of party primary elections as constituting the core of its democratic mandate but must enthrone social justice

He added, “In APC when it appeared that some people were pushing for a candidate from the north, the APC Governors met and resolved that equity and justice demands that after a northern President, the next President should come from the South and Mr President agreed with them and it happened and calmed nerves in APC This is more-so even as zoning or rotation is not in the APC constitution.

“On the part of PDP, rotation or zoning is clearly spelt out in its constitution but by a twist of politics, the party jettisoned zoning and a candidate from the North emerged. Since then, the party has not known peace.

“The G-5 governors are not saying that the election of the candidate was flawed but that there should be an adjustment in the structure of the party to accommodate social justice.”

He, therefore, urged the IPAC, to intervene to resolve the impasse and seek a common standard for which they should encourage the National Assembly to legislate on.

“Political party reformation should be anchored on the fact that Political Parties must no longer be structured for the sole purpose of acquiring power, but also as vehicles for promoting social justice, articulating policies and mainstreaming good governance in the polity,” Anyim added.

On the use of technology for the 2023 general elections, he backed the calls for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to subject the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, to third-party evaluation to ensure it meets standards and integrity.

“I think this call is in the right direction because justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Nigerians must be at ease that the BVAS technology is not a secret only known to INEC, it must be known to all that BVAS cannot be manipulated,” the ex-SGF stressed.

Speaking also, the Governor of Imo state, Chief Hope Uzodinma, called on the political elite in the country to desist from inflammatory comments and the canvassing of narratives that could stoke conflict and inflame passions.

According to Uzodinma, no one would gain from the consequences of such idle chatter rather the country would lose sorely.

He said, “The political leadership has a critical role to play in ensuring that elections are free and fair. Without a shadow of a doubt, the actions and inactions of these leaders will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the forthcoming general elections.

“What they say or fail to say in the electioneering campaigns, during and after the elections, will go a long way in determining the success or failure of the elections. Recent happenings across nations in the world, even in a country like the United States of America with a long history of democracy, have shown how powerful and dangerous inflammatory comments from political leaders can be.

“Back home, it should be instructive that if our leaders make inflammatory statements and present themselves as an ethnic or religious warlord or bigots, who promote their sectional interests above national interests, they will simply be goading their followers to war, not elections.”

On his part, the National Chairman of IPAC, Engr. Yabagi Sani, expressed confidence that the outcome of forthcoming general elections will be credible, saying with the level of preparations on the ground, the country has no choice but to get the polls right.

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