READ: Osun poll, FG plans massive security.

MohammedAbubakarIGP1708
Irrespective of criticisms that ensued the heavy presence of security
men during the Ekiti State governorship election, the Federal
Government is planning tight security for the August 9, 2014
governorship poll in Osun State and the 2015 elections.

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered from sources on Friday that security
agencies, especially the police, would pay special attention to
some All Progressives Congress states when deploying personnel.
It was also learnt that security agencies would, next month, repeat
in Osun State, what they did during the Ekiti State governorship
election.

It was gathered that states that were being targeted
for special security focus include Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers, Kano,
Borno, Adamawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Imo.

A highly placed security source, who confided in one of our
correspondents, said, “Opposition parties should prepare for heavy
deployment of security personnel in their states. With the success
recorded in Ekiti, security agencies are preparing for a large
deployment of their personnel. Helicopters and armoured
personnel careers will be in many states during the general
elections.”

When contacted, the Police Force Public Relations Officer, Mr.
Frank Mba, confirmed that the police, in collaboration with other
agencies, would ensure tight security during the 2015 polls.
He, however, said security agencies were not targeting opposition
parties, saying all the states, where elections would hold, would
be given equal attention.

He said, “The police will deploy massively for the 2015 elections
and we will partner other security agencies to ensure elections are
violence-free. Our collaboration with the military, Nigeria Customs,
Civil Defence, the State Security Service and other security
agencies will make the polls credible.”
Mba said it was only a political party that had something to hide
that would be afraid of security personnel deployment during
elections.

He stated that security operatives had no other business during
elections but to ensure that the due process was followed and that
elections held in accordance with the Electoral Act.
“The police and other security agencies are like light; they are
meant to shine light on the electoral process and if a party has
nothing to hide, it shouldn’t be afraid of our deployments,” he
stated.

Mba said the Force, under the Inspector-General of Police,
Mohammed Abubakar, would continue to maintain professionalism
and adherence to their code of ethics during election monitoring.
Mba said, “The deployment of security personnel during the 2015
elections will ensure the process is free and fair. The police are
apolitical and we have continued to maintain that stance since the
current IG assumed office and this could be seen in the way
policemen conducted themselves during elections in Ondo, Edo,
Anambra, and Ekiti states.

The force PRO explained that the police were building capacity to
ensure elections were violence-free.
Mba, who is an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the force
was already constructing helipads in Enugu, Benue and Nasarawa
states.

He added that more helicopters would also be procured to increase
the aerial power of the Police Air Wing.
He said, “Helipads are being constructed in Enugu, Benue,
Nasarawa and other states for the election. We are having a whole
lot of helicopters. Adverts are already placed for recruitment of
aviation engineers and aircraft maintenance and the rest of them.
“Apart from improvement in logistics, we won’t be taking charge of
security alone in as much as we retain our prime position as the
lead agency in internal security, we will also be getting support
from the military, customs, the civil defence and others during the
elections.”

Mba said the police were doing their best to ensure transparent
and credible polls across the country.
On the likely criticisms that may trail deployment of security
personnel during the 2015 elections, Mba stated that the freedom
of people to ventilate their divergent opinions is part of
democracy.

He said, “Though the opposition complained about the security
deployment in Ekiti, the people appreciated it and showed it by
snapping pictures with policemen and posting it on their
Facebook, besides it is better to err on the side of caution.”
But reacting to the plan for massive security deployment in the
2015 elections, opposition politicians and civil rights groups
warned the Federal Government against undermining free and fair
elections.

A delegate at the ongoing National Conference, Dr. Junaid
Mohammed, alleged that plans to deploy armed military personnel
for the 2015 elections just as it was done in Ekiti, was a ploy to
provide cover for the rigging of the elections.

He said it was a historical fact that election rigging had never
succeeded in Nigeria without the support of the police and other
security agencies.

According to him, what happened in Ekiti was the acting out of a
script written by the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal
Government and executed by security services.
He said, “What happened in Ekiti is not an accident. It wasn’t a
fluke and what is going to happen in Osun, is also not going to be
an accident.

Mohammed said heads of some security agencies were at the
centre of the plan to rig the elections.
“These are the people who set the parameters for the rigging of
elections. And let me tell you, throughout the history of Nigeria,
there has never been a successful attempt to rig without the full
support of the Police and the security services.”

Mohammed alleged that the President granted an extension to the
tenure of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar,
who is due to retire this July as a reward for performance in Ekiti.
He said, “His (IGP’s) tenure has been extended for another year
with the possibility of a further extension if he delivers on Osun
and the national elections in 2015 and there are no consequences
by the spineless electorate and the kind of politicians we have in
Nigeria.”

But Mba dismissed the allegations against the IGP. Responding to
allegation that the IG’s tenure was extended by one year because
he assisted the PDP to rig the Ekiti governorship election, the
Police spokesman said he could not comment on this as there was
no document or evidence to show that Abubakar’s tenure had been
extended by the Federal Government.

He described the allegation of rigging as a “slap on the face of
Ekiti voters” whom he said applauded the process as free and fair.
Mohammed, however, said it was sad that our security services
which hitherto earned the respect of the international community
for their discipline and professionalism had become “highly
politicised and commercialised.”

Also, a national leader of the APC and a former national chairman
of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, said
what happened during the governorship election in Ekiti State
should serve as an eye-opener to the role fear could play in the
coming elections.

He said, “The level of intimidation and harassment was very
disturbing to us. We shouldn’t fail to see the place of fear in
politics.
“Intimidation and harassment breed fear and when there is fear
you find that there will be suppression of votes, because if
somebody feels that he or she is not secure, he may not even
come out to vote. We have not really looked at that angle.
“How can you arrest leaders of just one political party a day to an
election? That is enough. Those arrests and other forms of
intimidation are enough to suppress votes, to prevent people who
even would have voted for Fayemi from doing so.”
Such happenings, he said, had the potential of affecting many
things in Nigeria.

Also, the Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and
Economic Justice, Rev. David Ugolor, recalled that the Edo State
Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and his Rivers State
counterpart, Mr. Rotmi Ameachi, were stopped from entering Ekiti
State.

He stated, “We cannot afford to encourage any action that will
motivate any person to feel that the government is undermining
the people. We must all work towards a free and fair election.
What happened in Ekiti should serve as a lesson to all the
stakeholders who were involved in the election. People should not
be threatened by military presence and we should encourage an
enabling environment.”

On his part, a civil rights activist and President, Nigeria Voters’
Assembly, Mr. Mashood Erubami, said heavy deployment of
security could create a conducive atmosphere for harassment of
voters.

He said, “Heavy deployment could in turn create conducive
atmosphere for the harassment, intimidation, disruption of
campaign processes and may also create fear in the minds of the
electorate leading to very low turnout of voters.

“In fact, depending on the intention behind the heavy deployment,
it may make election to be conducted at gun-point and allow
opposition to have free hands to manipulate and cause
irregularities which could ambush the fairness, peacefulness,
transparency and legitimacy of the election.”
He, however, noted that what determined the magnitude of security
deployment were the pre-election attitudes of stakeholders and
the subsisting security.

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