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Electoral violence: Police record 185 incidents, 203 arrests

Temitayo Okereji

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has revealed that police recorded and responded to 185 major incidents after it arrested 203 electoral offenders during the presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday, February 25, 2023.

He also noted that the cases are currently at various stages of investigation at the Nigeria Police Electoral Offences Desks, adding that they will be concluded and processed to the Legal Department of the Independent National Electoral Commission for prosecution in due course.

The police chief made the revelation on Monday during a meeting with strategic police managers, comprising Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and members of the Force Management Team, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, Commissioners of Police, and heads of tactical investigative and operational units of the Force, at the Goodluck Jonathan Peacekeeping Hall, Force Headquarters, Abuja.

He equally attributed the professionalism of the officers to the various pre-election pieces of training, planning, massive operational assets procurement and deployment, as well as prioritized welfare.

Baba said, “In this regard, of the about 185 major incidents that the police responded to across the country during the elections, a total of 203 offenders linked to various electoral offences and sundry crimes have so far been arrested, while not less than 18 firearms of various descriptions were recovered from political thugs during the exercise.

“All the cases are at various stages of investigations at the Nigeria Police Electoral Offences Desks and I assure you that in due course they will be concluded and processed to the Legal Department of the Independent National Electoral Commission for prosecution.”

According to the police chief, the essence of the meeting was to debrief officers posted for election security management duties and appraise the performance of officers at the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, identify gaps, and perfect the action plan for the forthcoming March 11 elections.

He added, “This is towards drawing on their practical experiences for informed feedback that will aid us in evaluating our operating performance and identifying logistics gaps and other challenges that might have been experienced during the exercise.

“Second is to assess the security situation at all levels in the immediate aftermath of the February 25, 2023 sets of elections. This is with a view to identifying trends and patterns within the post-election security space, and drawing inferences on possible threats that may require mitigation ahead of the next rounds of the national electoral process on March 11, 2023.

“The third focus of this election security review conference is to draw on our rich and diverse professional experiences in perfecting our Action Plan for the forthcoming Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, and to guarantee a stable internal security order ahead of the electoral exercise across the country.”

Baba noted that the starting point was to ensure that the tension that the process and outcome of the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly Elections generated is

mitigated proactively and well enough to ensure that it does not snowball into a national security breach nor impact negatively on the nation’s democratic achievements. 

He also urged all CPs to emulate the initiative of the Lagos State CP, Idowu Owohunwa who met with stakeholders to mitigate violence.

Baba said, “This is more so that some unpatriotic elements have been attempting to negatively utilize social media to post fake news, videos and other materials with the sole intent of heating up the polity, fueling political bitterness, and enflaming the national security space.

“Towards dousing this tension, I take particular cognizance of the initiative of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who in engaging a consultative approach recently organized an all-inclusive stakeholders meeting where he succeeded in galvanizing the citizens and strategic stakeholders in evolving a common front to advocate for peace and address the postelection security threats and apprehension in the state.

“Drawing on the effectiveness of this strategy in Lagos State, I hereby direct all the CPs across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT to return to their Commands and replicate the same initiative on or before Thursday, March 9 2023 as part of efforts to guarantee peace ahead of the March 11, 2023 elections.”

He further admonished parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards to resist the urge of being recruited as cannon folders or destabilising agents to disrupt the nation’s electoral process. 

He said, “The Nigeria Police under my watch will be unsparing of such elements and their sponsors. As often said, ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed.’”

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