Attacks: Police to tighten security at INEC offices


INEC-1The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has directed Commissioners of Police across the country to protect the facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission. This, he said, was part of measures to prevent further attacks on the commission’s properties.

The Force Spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, gave the position of the IG in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday. He said the police boss also asked the police commissioners to intensify efforts to arrest the culprits involved in the attacks on the commission’s facilities nationwide.

The Osun and Ogun states offices of INEC were attacked and set ablaze on Thursday by some criminals, during which thousands of permanent voter cards awaiting collection and other materials were destroyed.

In Ogun State, 65,699 PVCs, 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags and eight electric power generators were destroyed while in Osun State, a portion of the commission’s office was set ablaze. The commission however said documents relating to the ongoing governorship election petitions tribunal in Osun State were not destroyed in the attack.

Speaking on the efforts to protect the commission’s facilities, Adejobi said, “The directive given by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to officers is that they must protect all INEC facilities. Hence, it is for the Commissioners of Police in the states to design how best they can protect INEC facilities within their Commands.”

“The IGP cannot go to every state to get that done. This is non-negotiable, the IGP has given that leadership platform, directive, and the strategic clues for them to deploy, so we expect every Commissioner of Police to fortify INEC facilities in their areas of responsibility.”

At an emergency meeting with the heads of security agencies who are members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security on Friday, the IG said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the twin attacks in Ogun and Osun states. He promised that justice would be served.

Muyiwa, in the interview with one of our correspondents, noted further that the IG had directed the police commissioner in Borno State to investigate the attack on the convoy of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, in the state. “The IGP has directed the CP Borno State to investigate the attack on Atiku Abubakar and arrest and prosecute the culprits,” he added.

‘Arrest attackers now’

Meanwhile, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yabuku, said at the emergency meeting on Friday that the attacks on the commission’s facilities would not stop the 2023 elections from holding as scheduled. He also noted that a peaceful campaign was critical to a peaceful election.

Yakubu demanded the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, warning that if nothing urgent was done and decisive steps taken, the attacks would intensify as the elections approach.

He stated, “Nigerians expect decisive action from ICCES. It is important that we move swiftly to apprehend perpetrators, prosecute them as required by law and reinforce security around election officials and electoral infrastructure around the country.

“As we have stated on several occasions, election is a multi-stakeholder activity involving not just INEC and the security agencies. The political class plays perhaps the most critical role in ensuring peaceful elections. We must all rise to the occasion. Nigerians are watching us. The world is watching us. We must never disappoint them.

“The commission wishes to reassure Nigerians that we remain committed to delivering credible elections in spite of the challenges. The attempt to sabotage or weaken our resolve will not deter us from conducting transparent elections in which only the votes cast by Nigerians on Election Day will determine winners of elections.”

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