The conduct of the country’s elections on February 25 and March 11 will be ensured by the deployment of around 404,106 police and other security personnel, according to Inspector-General of Police Usman Alkali Baba on Thursday.
The IGP added that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) member Simon Ekpa’s threat that there won’t be elections in Southeast Nigeria is not being taken lightly by the Nigerian government.
Ekpa is said to have been inciting people from Finland, and to get at him, the police chief declared that all required regulations would be followed.
The police, he claimed, would alter the narrative by making sure that people interpreted his declaration of a curfew and request that they not cast ballots in the Southeast as acts of instigation intended to cause unrest in the nation.
According to reports, Ekpa, a resident of Finland who is supposedly supported by a few criminals in the Southeast and some outside forces, is to blame for the ongoing lockdown of the economy through the practice of “sitting at home” on Mondays and other specified days.
The IGP claimed that Ekpa’s threat against holding elections in the Southeast was an attempt to destabilize the nation while speaking at the Ministerial Media Briefing held by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Additionally, he stated that the police will provide 310,973 of the 404,106 security officers, with the remaining troops coming from other security organizations across the nation.
93,133 additional security personnel, bringing the total to 404, 106, will support the efforts of the police, according to Baba, in addition to the military and the Department of State Service (DSS).
“Nigeria police will deploy 310,973 personnel for the elections security operations. This will comprise of the conventional policemen, the mobile policemen, the special counterterrorism unit, the special forces, intelligence response team and other sections of the police.
“The manpower requirement for this exercise will be complemented by the military and other security agencies. In this regard, aside the military and the DSS, other security agencies will contribute a total of 93,495 personnel for the election security operations.
“These include the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense, which will deploy, through the Police, 51,000 personnel; the Federal Road Safety Corps, 21,000; Nigerian Correctional Service 11,336; the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, 9,447; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 350, totaling 404,106 to police the elections.
“With this layout, a minimum of at least two personnel, drawn from the above agencies, will be jointly deployed to man each of the polling units across the country while the armed personnel will secure the public space, INEC facilities, vulnerable locations, border areas, as well as undertake armed escort duties for INEC personnel, materials and local and international observers.
“We also expect the military to compliment this situation by providing armed protection to critical national assets, ensure that the enforcement of movements are curtailed through the blocking of exit points and entry points to various states, local governments and so forth”, he said.
The police boss said an intelligence unit had been put in place to track and apprehend those who might engage in vote buying and others who might want to disrupt the exercise.
“As part of efforts to address the menace of votes selling and buying, a special intelligence unit of the force has been constituted to clandestinely monitor the trend and work with EFCC, ICPC and INEC in identifying the network that may be involved in this illegality and apprehend them where possible.
“In addition, the unique technical intelligence assets of the force are also being deployed towards identifying adverse elements that may be planning to disrupt the process. Through this initiate, such elements will be identified real time, geo-located, isolated, arrested and brought to justice”, he said.
The police boss listed some threats against the conduct of the elections including fuel scarcity and cash squeeze but assured that the situation with both will stabilize before the commencement of the exercise.
“We are very sure the situation of cash and petrol will stabilize before the conduct of the election,” he stated.
Alkali asserted that an intelligence unit is in place to track and apprehend those who may engage in vote buying and others who may want to disrupt the exercise.
On the red zones, he said, “The force has identified the following major crimes that could negatively impact on the peaceful Democratic trajectory.
“We looked at offenses like banditry and terrorism which is majorly located in the north east geo political zone, violent secessionist campaigns by elements of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network which has been targeting the symbols of democratic governance including INEC assets, police stations and personnel, military and other agencies as well as state government officials, and traditional institutions, all in an effort to attain or disrupt the 2023 general election.
“We also have this growing misguided activities of the Oduduwa nation agitators who from intelligent sources of late are attempting to also attempting to destabilize the situation.
“We have this issue of illegal small arms and light weapons trafficking which are being used to bring a lot of problems. We have issues including cyber crimes, cyber bullying, kidnapping and all sort.
“So, generally, the situation as it is against this background, the focus of the force has been to up scale our operational activities to stabilize these situations in order to ensure that the election takes place.
“We have in place certain strategic operational and tactical measures to ensure a peaceful electioneering atmosphere in Nigeria.”
On what the police would do to address post election challenges and the preparation to ensure elections were held in Southeast and Northwest, the IGP said the force was ready with the use of minimum force, adding that “We are prepared to confront any situation that requires special intervention from simplest to violent ways of confronting rioters.”
The IGP absolved the police of any blame over low prosecution of electoral offenders, saying “the Electoral Act as amended gives us latitude to investigate but not to prosecute. We have done much but prosecution is very low”.