CEM REPORT, GOVERNANCE | Ahead of the 2023 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has given the go-ahead to all security agencies to deal decisively with individuals or groups trying to prevent peaceful conduct of the 2023 general election.
This is as the country recorded 52 acts of political violence across 22 states within a month.
According to the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Babagana Monguno, the 52 acts which were recorded between October and the 9th of November, requires urgent attention for peaceful conduct of the 2023 elections.
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Friday, the NSA stated that the security agencies have been given clear-cut instructions to pre-empt and deal with any situation in which any group organisation or institution decides to embark on what he described as “fundamentally criminal enterprise for undertaking.”
“The president has also given his directive through me to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of any rancour.
“The president is extremely pleased with the outcome of the results of elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States and he wants a repeat of such performance.
“A manifestation of the people’s will triumphing over any obstacle that might dismantle the democracy we are trying to protect.”
Speaking on the recent attacks on INEC facilities Monguno noted that “whether these are isolated incidents, collected group activities, is not important. The important thing is that every Nigerian is allowed to cast his votes. And those votes must count.”
He assured that persons or groups trying to perpetrate unlawful acts regarding their political affiliation would be dealt with appropriately.
“For those people who hold the strings, who control these groups that have a proclivity for unleashing violence, those people who have gangsters working for them, I want to send a very, very clear warning, a categorical unequivocal warning to each and everyone, regardless of whichever party, including the party of the president.
“For as long as you decide to scuttle the election process, the law enforcement agencies will equally be uninhibited and reacting to whatever actions you have taken, you will be visited with appropriate or commensurate response.
“I want to assure you, and I’m saying this with all sincerity.”
The NSA said security and intelligence agencies are already tracking some of the masterminds.
He urged individuals who organised elements causing mayhem during the election to call their supporters to order.
Also present at the meeting the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, reaffirmed the force’s commitment to ensuring that the 2023 general election was peaceful and credible.
He urged political parties and politicians to play by the rule to enable security agencies to protect them.
He recalled that since the start of the electioneering campaign, there have been incidences of disruptions in party rallies and campaigns through violence.
He stated that the police have made some arrests, adding that investigations are ongoing and some suspects prosecuted.
The IGP called for quick dispensation of justice and adequate punishment of those who had been arrested for electoral offences to serve as a deterrent to members of the public.
“Punishment and rewards are necessary tools in any environment.
“It is our hope and prayer that now that we don’t have an Electoral Tribunal to prosecute electoral offences, we are urging our courts that we have taken our cases to now to hasten up.
“This is important so that punishment will be awarded to those who will be found guilty or those we have established that they have a case to answer.”