By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba, on Thursday said that the mass deployment of security personnel for the November 6 governorship elections in Anambra State may discourage the turnout of voters.
But the IGP said the measure was necessary to checkmate criminals disrupting the process.
Featuring at the ministerial media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the presidential villa, Abuja, the Police boss said to ensure that the people come out to exercise their franchise, the police has engaged in issuing jingles and talking to stakeholders to assure them of safety.
He explained that most of the officers that would be assigned to polling stations would be unarmed as they would be involved in checking vote-rigging and illegal campaign at venues.
Asked if the mass deployment would not be counterproductive, he said: “As for the massive deployment, yes, it has its advantage, and it has its disadvantage, and that is why knowing the fact that it has disadvantage of may be militarizing the electoral process, we try to involve the engagement of public enlightenment, the engagement of stakeholders that our presence is to police the situation in two ways.
“It is, while we are asking people to come out and vote, another group or other subversive elements are saying ‘don’t come.
“If you come, we’ll do this, we’ll do that.’ So, there must be some level of assurance that we would give to these people to come out and that requires massive deployment of officers and men who would also ensure that the subversive elements do not take over the process.
“While we have other elements that would police the election, which is mostly…we don’t even deploy them with arms.
“Those we are deploying to polling stations to ensure orderliness and checking of electoral malpractices, like vote buying, campaigning in the place and so forth, this does not even require carrying of arms.
“But you also need to put officers on standby, on patrol that would check the would-be persons that can carry arms against the state.
“We are trying to educate and enlighten people that our presence is for the benefit of everybody, that our presence is for the benefit of ensuring that they come out and exercise their franchise of voting who they want.
“And that is the essence of the jingles we are doing, the essence of going to do community engagements, stakeholders, meetings, talking to their religious leaders and so forth.
“I think it has its advantage; it has its disadvantage, but we try to as much as possible ensure that it is for the advantage of everybody that the massive deployment should take place.”
On the missing Vanguard reporter, Tordue Sallem, the IGP said, “We are worried about your missing colleague. The incident was officially reported to the FCT Police, I got involved when some of your colleagues protested at the Force Headquarters.”
He said he had directed the matter Special Tactical Unit to take over the investigation, adding that the case was transferred to the unit on Tuesday.