March 14, 2023

Guber Polls: FG warns against violence, threatens severe sanctions

Guber polls: Call your lieutenants to order, NSA tells political gladiators

Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja

Ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and States Assembly Elections, the Federal Government has warned partisans against resorting to violence in the bid to obtain political power.

National Security Adviser NSA, Gen. Mohammed Monguno (retd) gave the warning on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES.

He said; “The elections we are going into on Saturday are going to be much more complicated. Contextually, they are going to be different because first of all, we are going to have 1,021 constituencies, meaning we are going to have more people interested, more people voting, more collation centers, and obviously, the dynamics will be much more different than the elections than what we just concluded.

“While commending the efforts of the various political parties and the individuals that participated in the last election, especially those of them that called for peace, for calm. I want to also urge the same individuals, especially at the state level, to demonstrate the same level of maturity, the same level of discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that is congruent with the expectations of the larger Nigerian society.

“Of course, there are channels for laying complaints and for addressing these complaints for the security agencies. I know a lot has been done. I have been talking with the Chief of Defence Staff. I have been talking with the Inspector General of Police, who is the head of the lead agency in the process of elections.

“So far, so good, we do not envisage anything that is going to be terrible or apocalyptic in terms of the next few days, but that does not mean that we should all do away with a state of readiness. We must comply with the rules. We must also allow everyone – I have said this so many times – to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country. What we do not want to happen is for anybody to preempt, and to take the law into his or her own hands. I want to be very, very clear on this. We are going to give the maximum support to all entities involved in this process and we are also calling on the political bigwigs, the gladiators to call their people to order. Anybody who is itching to undermine this process should please think again. It is not in his own interest. It is not in the interest of the nation as well.

“Finally, those of us in the security agencies will continue to work round the clock, all the crisis centres are open, all the communication systems are also open”.

Speaking earlier, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission’s State offices have been made available to the Nigeria Police Force, being the lead agency in election security.

He said the delimitation details for both the Governorship and State Assembly elections, including locations of Polling Units and Collation Centres have been made available to the police.

“On that basis, we expect a coordinated deployment plan in synergy with other security, intelligence, law enforcement and safety agencies.

“Only yesterday, the Commission held a virtual meeting with all the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in which we reviewed preparations for the State elections. In addition to election technology, logistics and a host of other issues, security was also discussed. We will present some of the issues at this meeting for further discussion and, most importantly, appropriate action”, he stated.

Yakubu said it was important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war.

“They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers.

“The Commission is encouraged by the directive to State Commands by the Inspector General of Police to handle all cases of electoral offences expeditiously. We look forward to receiving the case files. We will immediately set up a legal team to handle such cases in earnest”, he said.