BY CHUKS NNOCHIRI in Abuja•
Nigeria’s security chiefs have criticised the roles of security agents in aiding election rigging, and warned that such misdemeanor would henceforth attract stiff punishments.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu took a swipe at activities of security agencies as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahood Yakubu warned that his Commission would no longer conduct elections where their staff and other adhoc workers were not safe.
Mahmood added that his staff would no longer announce results under threat or duress in future elections. He therefore called for a new approach in elections security that would translate to protecting the voters, INEC staff, as well as security synergy to check thuggery during elections in Nigeria.
Mongunu said, “We have all seen that 2019 was saturated with elections at all levels right up to the presidential election. We have been able to draw lessons from pre-elections preparations, the actual conduct of election and the post-election activities.
“A lot of things have come to light. We have converged at the security sector to look at the outcome of elections. We have made our assessment, not only at the strategic operations but right down to the tactical level. Lessons have been drawn. I want to assure everybody that these lessons are actually going to reflect on the elections to be held early this year.
“We have a responsibility to securing this process. The voters and indeed the wider society have a lot of expectations from us and we need to fulfill the legitimate expectations of the people by behaving in accordance with the statutes.
For those of us in the security environment, what we need to do is to address the challenges we had in the previous elections and to ensure that these things do not recur.
“Securing the environment, protecting the electorate and those who will actually engage the process, the officials of INEC and other state officials is a responsibility for all of us.
“Without active collaboration, we cannot achieve confidence in the larger society. It is extremely important also for us to know that this time around, whatever be the problems we had in the last elections, we must be able to address them.
“There must be consequences for bad behaviour. Bad behaviour not only in relation to thugs, criminal, outlaws and people who just want to upset the entire system but our own elements and agents who either by design or default want to scuttle this process must be brought to book.
“We must be able to carry through to a logical conclusion any act that are contrary to what the state had placed. Anyone who behaves outside the confines of legitimacy will have to be dealt with. Anything that is illegal, we are not going to allow to be pushed under the carpet. We have had a lot of meeting with the IGP and the Co-Chairman.
“I want to reassure the nation that we will as much as possible try and conduct election and secure the environment and those people who are engaged in.
“We want to keep everybody who wants to vote an atmosphere to be able to exercise his right without feeling of intimidation and without being pushed into a situation whereby he has to abandon what he wants to do”.
Also speaking, the Inspector General of Police said, “Ours in the security circle, both the police and other security agencies, ours is to provide an enabling environment in terms of securing all the different aspects of the electoral process.
“Therefore preparation has to be taken proper in securing of INEC materials, the officials, the electorate themselves. The only area that I want to talk on is the area of synergy. Everybody knows that without proper security, election cannot hold and in every election, a lot of resources and personnel are committed into the process before we even achieve the result that is announced.
“The area that I will call for synergy is synergy within security agencies performing election duties with INEC officials themselves. No touts can come out and commit any electoral offense on the Election Day without connivance from either security agencies or INEC officials or the politicians. But when we work together, everybody knows his responsibilities, when we work together, we can stop anybody that will want to disrupt election. No tout, if we cooperate can penetrate security agencies.