‘Election is not war and killers must be arrested and prosecuted’
Security expert, Chief Ona Ekhomu, appraises the role and performance of security agents/agencies during last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The security agencies had the duty to provide a protected environment where Nigerians could vote without fear of disorder, bodily harm or death.Generally, the elections were peaceful, I observed that the elections were peaceful and this was attested by election observers, domestic and foreign.
However, pockets of violence dotted the national electoral landscape. I will rate security performance 50 per cent on election day. It is a passing grade, but not exceptional or inspirational. In Lagos State, political thugs substantially disrupted elections in places like Okota, Isolo, Oshodi. The video footage of one courageous, but ineffective policeman trying to keep six thugs from destroying ballot boxes and setting them on fire was sickening.
The question is: Where were his partners and the Alpha Papa (armed policemen) that were supposed to be on the outer perimeter? It was alleged that the policemen left after receiving a phone call, paving the way for the hoodlums to unleash mayhem at the polling station.Aside from Lagos, there was violence in several parts of Rivers State with tragic consequences. Delta, Bayelsa, Osun, Nasarawa and Enugu states also experienced significant violence.
So, while most polling stations did not witness violence, some did witnessed uncontrolled violence. The security architecture is supposed to take care of things when they go awry, but in those cases, it did not.
The structure for the March 9 polls may not differ significantly from that of February 23. The Police agency and other security agencies are fully committed to the existing structural arrangements, but the innermost concentric circle is the placement of policemen men/women at polling sites.
The second concentric circle is the deployment of armed policemen at the outer perimeter, while the third circle is Police random and directed armed patrols, as well as military checkpoints.
While our security agencies focus on operational and tactical elements of election security, which often fails when tested, strategic measures, such as deterrent measures are not exploited. For example, several political actors were known to have sponsored the violence that occurred on February 23. If the Police had the moral courage to arrest these perpetrators and fly them to a dungeon in Abuja, while diligent investigations would be carried out at the respective crime scenes, other violent actors would know that violence does not pay.
However, so long as Police executives do not choose to arrest the killers of Miss Ibisako Amarchee, an ad hoc staff of INEC who was shot dead on duty at Abonnema in Rivers State by cultists, this cycle of violence, enabled by impunity will continue. Election is not war and killers must be arrested and prosecuted. This is the least expected of security agencies, as it is the basis of the modern democratic state- respect for the role of law.