• As INEC wants security at PU identified by names
By Lateef Ibrahim
The National Security Adviser, NSA, and Co-chair of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES)
Maj.- Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), has decried the violence witness during the recent Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, did spite the level of preparedness and promises made by security agencies.
This is even as the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu disclosed that some arrests have already made in connection with the violence recorded during the Nov. 16 governorship elections in the two states.
Monguno and Adamu spoke yesterday at meeting of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja.
The NSA, who was represented by Mr Sanusi Galadima, pointed out that the violence, including the murder of Mrs Salome Abuh, PDP woman leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi in her house on Nov. 18, in a post-election violence, was unthinkable.
All stakeholders, such as security agencies and political parties, he stressed, must come together and ensure that future elections, including the January court ordered polls, are peaceful.
In his words, “Our fears is that if nothing is done to curtail violence in future elections, voters may not come out to vote.
“Just yesterday (Tuesday), if I can refresh our mind, there was a book launch in Abuja, where you had the creams of all political parties, APC and PDP were all there. We saw how they were embracing each others laughing.
“To my mind that laughter tells a lot that look at these useless people killing themselves because of politics.
“It is our hope and prayers that all the stakeholders pertaining to elections that will come up in future, the issue of violence will be addressed adequately,” Monguno said.
The IG of Police, Mohammed Adamu, represnted by Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Mr Bashir Makama, revealed that some arrests jave already been made in connection with the violence that chatacterized the Nov. 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.
About 25 electoral suspects, according to Adamu, were arrested in Bayelsa and are being investigated at the Zonal Command headquarters in Benin City adding that once investigation was completed, they would be charged to court.
He said, “In Kogi, a total of 35, 200 as against 31,000 in Bayelsa were deployed for the same assignment.”
The IGP, while noting that there were skirmishes of violence in Kogi, said that eight suspect were arrested and investigations were ongoing.
According to Adamu, “Those that are found culpable will be charged to court.
“As regards to woman leader that was hacked down, six suspects were arrested separately in lieu of that particular matter. Investigations are yet to be concluded, once that is done, proper action will be taken.”
Adamu, however said that inspite of the recoded violence, the elections in the two state were relatively peaceful.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on his part, disclosed that to effectively address the issue of electoral violence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advocated the deployment of security personnel in all future elections should be tied to specific locations and activities.
Yakubu suggested that all security personnel deployed to polling units and collation centres should be identified by name as was the case with INEC officials.
In his reasoning, “This will not only enhance transparency, but the Commission and security agencies will know who to contact in specific locations during elections when the need arises.
“They will also be held responsible for the proper conduct of elections in those locations.
“The Inspector-General of Police has assured the Commission that this new approach to the deployment of security personnel will be piloted in the court-ordered re-run elections holding next month,” Yakubu said.
INEC, he said, believed that the purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials.
He added that it was also to protect accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collation centres.
Yakubu also stressed the need to review the deployment of armed security to the outer perimeters of voting units to counter the movement of thugs with the intention of disrupting elections.
He added, “Arrest of offenders must be followed by a thorough investigation so that thugs and their sponsors are penalised under the law”.
Yakubu noted that while INEC has no power to cancel elections, it would not hesitate to suspend elections anywhere its officials report the disruption of the process or threats to the lives by acts of thuggery or community connivance.
His words, “The Commission will not return to the affected areas for as long as it takes until we are guaranteed adequate safety for all those involved in the process.
“We must never allow violence and thuggery to define our elections”, he said.
The Commission, he reiterated, would submit proposals to the National Assembly on how the electoral legal framework could be amended to sanction violators and further empower the Commission in that respect.
Yakubu stated further, “Similarly, we need to continue to deepen the use of technology for the integrity of elections.
“The Senate Committee on INEC has already shared with the Commission the Electoral Act amendment bill for our input.
“We are excited by some of the new provisions concerning electronic transmission of results.
“We are glad that the electoral legal framework is removing some of the encumbrances to the full deployment of technology for the improvement of the electoral process in Nigeria, especially result collation and management.
“The Commission will work with the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the amendment to the electoral legal framework so that work can begin in earnest to make future elections in Nigeria more technology-based.
“It is long overdue, it is doable, it is achievable and it is inevitable,” he said.
Yakubu said that the meeting became necessary in order to review the experience with the security arrangements for the recent Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.