2023 presidential, NASS elections: Police nab 203 electoral offenders, recover 18 arms 

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, has said the the Nigeria Police arrested 203 electoral offenders linked to 185 major incidents during the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections across the country.

IGP Baba disclosed this in his remark during a meeting with strategic police managers, comprising Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs) and members of the Force Management Team, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), Commissioners of Police (CPs), and heads of tactical investigative and operational units, Monday at the Force Heaquarters, Abuja, to review election security and strategies for the March 11 Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

The police boss, who noted that the Presidential and NASS elections presented varying degrees of challenges, tasked the CPs of the 36 states and FCT to hold consultative stakeholders meeting to douse tension which the process and outcome of the elections generated and  ensure that it does not snowball into a national security breach.

While commending the performance of officess and men during the elecrions he expressed delight at  the “resilience and utmost professionalism which you all displayed in the course of your election security operations.”

He stated, “… I am particularly elated that you situated your operations strictly within the context of the Reviewed Standard Operational Guidelines and Rules for Police Officers and Other Security Agents on Electoral Duties which was issued to all officers in the count down to the election operations.

“I am also excited that you all maintained a high level of civility and situated your operations within the dictates of rule of law. Yet, you remained apolitical, firm and supportive of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and sacrificed to create an enabling environment for the law abiding electorates to peacefully exercise their franchise while denying space for electoral adversaries to manifest their ill-intentions to threaten the overall process.

“Even more soothing is the feedback received to the effect that you responded promptly and courageously to most of the breaches that were recorded and largely mitigated them with the highest level of self-restraint and best global policing standard in the circumstance.

“In your quest to maintain order within the electoral space, you succeeded on a commendable scale in stabilising such threatened space, safely rescued several INEC officials and citizens that were under threats, secured sensitive materials, made series of recoveries including arms and ammunition of various descriptions as well as effected, in the most professional manner, the arrest of several electoral adversaries nationwide.

“In this regard, of the about one 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 INEC.”

According to the.police boss, “Our outstanding performance is, indeed, evidenced by the fact that for the first time in the election security history of our beloved country, the Nigeria Police has been widely insulated from accusations that usually accompany any electoral cycle. We have, rather, been receiving accolades and encouragements from  both local and international election observers for our unprecedented quality election security service delivery.

“This  much was re-echoed by the African Union Commission (AUC)  Election Observer Mission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and several other credible national and international sources.

“All of these are not only reflective of the pre-election security operations trainings that most personnel of the Force were exposed to, it is also a product of the meticulous planning, massive operational assets and logistics procurement and deployment process as well as the privatisation of the welfare requirements of personnel deployed on the election duties.”

On preparations for the Governorship and State Assembly elections he said, “You must be prepared to work more assiduously towards providing the requisite strategic leadership in your various posts for your personnel in guaranteeing an electoral and general  public space that will remain stable, peaceful and secure enough to keep citizens in no doubt of our unwavering commitment to their yearnings for a credible electoral process as we cap up the 2023 general elections in a few days’ time.

“The starting point to this is to ensure that the tension which the process and outcome of the just concluded Presidential and NASS elections generated is mitigated proactively and well-enough to ensure that it does not snowball into a national security breach nor impact negatively 

on our democratic achievements.

“This is more so that some unpatriotic elements have been attempting to negatively utilise the 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 CP who in engaging a consultative approach recently organised an allinclusive, stakeholders meeting where he succeeded in galvanising the citizens and strategic stakeholders in evolving a common front to advocate for peace and address the post�election 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 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.”

IGP Baba reassured Nigerians and the international community of the willingness the Force to draw on the experience and lessons from the just concluded elections towards strengthening its capacity and operational architecture for Saturday’s polls.

The police boss urged political actors, across party lines, and the electorates to exercise their franchise within the dictates of the Electoral Act, overriding national security consideration, and democratic interests, just as he admonished parents and guardians to prevail on their children and wards to resist being recruited as cannon folders or destabilising agents to disrupt the  electoral process.

He also appealed to media practitioners to demonstrate patriotism and always place national security interests over and above other considerations, as well as resisting the urge to use their platforms to propagate fake news and threaten peace and security in the polity.