BY Elvyn Usman
Lagos – Ahead of the April general elections, the Lagos State Police command and other security agencies, charged with the responsibility of ensuring violence-free elections, embarked on a ‘show of force,’ yesterday, to send warning signals to troublemakers in the state.
The security personnel comprising Policemen, Army, Navy, Airforce, NAFDAC and other paramilitary agents, were seen on motorbikes, patrol vans, Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs in different parts of the state.
Violence prone areas such as Mushin, Idi-Araba, Agege, Ajegunle among others had larger concentration of the personnel.
The Commander, 9 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Ikeja Cantonment, Brigadier General Sanusi Muazu, explained that the combined show of force was to test their capability, assuring that “with what I saw today (yesterday), we are ready to contain any situation the during elections.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, also explained that the exercise was aimed at deterring criminals from fomenting trouble before, during and after the elections. He said it was also to show the level of preparedness by the security agents for the polls.
The blaring of siren by the security personnel took residents of most areas by surprise, as some of them initially mistook their presence for a distress response of robbery operation.
Already, Military personnel had been placed on strategic areas, in order to nip in the bud violent occurrences during the April polls.
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, who recently unfolded a framework for security agencies during the elections, charged the Nigeria Police, Army, Navy, Airforce, SSS and Para_military organisations with the specified tasks to carry out under the coordination of the National Security Adviser, which ultimately is expected to create the atmosphere for free, fair and credible elections
.The roadmap of the framework as released by Prof. Jega showed that the Nigeria Police is to provide adequate personnel to man/keep order at polling units and other INEC facilities; provide security for election equipment and other materials during delivery, election and retrieval; apprehend law breakers and prosecute them; dissuade public officials from misusing police security details.
The Nigerian Army on its part, is to establish standby rapid deployment squads in all states in case of serious crises; assist in delivery of INEC materials where necessary; assist in retrieving INEC election equipment, materials and personnel after elections where necessary; prepare to assist and evacuate civilians in case of serious crisis.
For the Nigeria Navy and Air Force, they are to, among others, increase surveillance of Nigeria’s seaports, airspace, airports and continental shelf during elections; assist in the deployment of INEC equipment and personnel where necessary; assist in restricting movement along waterways during election; assist in protecting election equipment/materials where police and other security agencies are not unable to do so; establish standby rapid deployment squads in all states in case of serious crisis; assist in delivery of INEC materials where necessary; prepare to evacuate civilians in case of serious crisis during election.