By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
The inability or unwillingness of Nigeria’s security agencies to properly secure the electoral wishes of the citizenry, has not only remained a recurring decimal during all polls, but is also a very bad testimonial for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Apart from the foregoing, it has been identified as one of tthe major reasons that is largely responsible for people’s aparthy, as well as their not having return for their votes, or what the common cliché among the citizenry is known as dividends of democracy.
People’s ugly experience during general elections include, but not limited to ballot box snatching, kidnapping of electoral officers, destruction of electoral materials and compromising of electoral processes.
Other identifiable issues are growing political assassinations, massive vote buying and the alleged brazen involvement of the military and other security personnel in electoral malpractices.
The Imo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Professor Francis Ezeonu, in a recent interview, lamented that the Independent National Electoral Commissione, INEC, is completely helpless about the control of the security personnel during general elections.
He said: “One thing I always like to do, is to tell myself the truth. The Electoral Law says that security officers who are to participate in the election, should be handed over to INEC, to control. On paper that is what it is, but in reality, it is not, because these security personnel are given command and control.
“I don’t want to mention one or two places where we had issues and I called a police officer in the area and told him how a particular thing should be done and he told me: Oga, that is not the directive I have from my boss.”
Ezeonu went further to disclose that the issue of security would remain a serious problem, especially as he reasoned that the problem may not be from the top at all times.
In the last election, the police paraded no fewer than 103 persons, suspected to have infringed on the Electoral Law.
Speaking during the event at the State Police Headquarters, Owerri, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Mr. Wilson Inalegwu, said that their offences ranged from destruction of electoral materials, unlawful possession of firearms, thuggery, impersonation and electoral malpractice.