November 10, 2023

DHQ, DSS, IGP read riot act as Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi polls hold tomorrow


DSS operatives

By Chioma Gabriel, Soni Daniel & Kingsley Omonobi

LAGOS — To ensure peaceful conduct of tomorrow’s governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states, the Defence Headquarters, Department of State Service, DSS, and the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, yesterday, read the riot act to troublemakers, warning them of dire consequences if they dared foment trouble during the polls.

On a day IGP Egbetokun posted and redeployed 14 Assistant Inspectors- General of Police (AIGs), and 26 Commissioners of Police, CPs, with immediate effect, the Defence Headquarters said the military is aware of plans by some persons working for some candidates to disguise in military gear to disrupt the polls.

Also, the DSS warned individuals and groups against making incendiary statements, ahead of the polls, saying resort to violent language could upset conduct of peaceful and orderly elections in the three states.

The security agencies’ warning came as South-East traditional rulers and religious leaders sued for peace.

Consequences for disguising as military personnel

The Defence headquarters warned persons or groups planning to disguise themselves as military personnel during the polls that there will be injurious consequences for such action as the military will not allow its image to be destroyed.

Director of Defence Media Operations, Major- General Edward Buba, gave the warning while briefing on military operations to counter threats of terrorists, bandits/kidnappers, oil theft perpetrators and other forms of insecurity across the country.

“For the off-season elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states taking place this weekend: Here is a message for you. The military is deployed in strength for the election to emplace a safe environment for voters to peacefully come out and cast their votes.

“However, we are aware of plans of some to disguise themselves in military gear to orchestrate havoc and disrupt elections in some areas. Our message to such a group is that there will be injurious consequences for such an action. The military will not fold its arms and watch its image dragged to the mud.”

Erring troops will be court-martialed Regarding any possible connivance by troops to flout electoral guidelines or create havoc, DHQ warned troops to beware that standing court martial had been created and that any personnel found wanting will face the consequences of his action.

“It is important to highlight that the AFN (Armed Forces of Nigeria) is a disciplined and well-trained force that conducts its operation within the ambit of laws governing human rights and that of armed conflict. We have rules of engagement that are followed in the course of our actions.

Nevertheless, there are standing court-martial to put on trial any erring personnel that is found wanting during operations.”

Troops kill 113 terrorists, arrest 300, rescue 91 kidnapped victims

On operations to tackle insecurity and other threats, Gen Buba said: “Troops in the last one week neutralized 113 terrorists with 300 of them arrested. Troops also arrested 25 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 91 kidnapped hostages.

Troops in the Niger Delta area discovered and destroyed 49 illegal refining sites, 76 dugout pits, 35 boats, 95 storage tanks, 10 vehicles, 129 cooking ovens, 5 pumping machines, 13 speedboats, 6 outboard engines, one vessel, 3 motorcycles.

Troops recovered 514,640 litres of stolen crude oil, 339,315 litres of illegally refined AGO and 775 litres
of DPK.

Troops also arrested 57 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 47 kidnapped hostages.

In the South-South, he said troops stopped oil theft of estimated N727,8 million, adding: “During the operations, troops recovered 129 assorted weapons and 717 assorted ammunition made up of one unserviceable AA gun, one RPG tube, 5 RPG bombs, one GT3 rifle, 54 AK47 rifles, 8 locally fabricated rifles, one locally made rifle, 2 pistols, 2 pump action guns, 2 Dane guns, 4 locally fabricated pistol, 3 skeleton of AK47rifles, 9 hand grenades,one unserviceable AK47 rifle, 14 magazines, 321 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, and 40 live cartridges” among others.

In the North East, he said troops in ongoing counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations neutralised 67 terrorists, arrested 190, and rescued 47 kidnapped hostages.

Shun inflammatory statements or face our wrath, DSS warns On its part, the DSS in a statement by the Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications,Dr. Peter Afunanya, warned that those who attempt tocause trouble before, during and after the elections would be seriously dealt with by the laws of Nigeria.

The statement read: “The DSS has observed rising trends and patterns of incendiary comments by some personalities of influence and representatives of nongovernmental entities within and outside the country. Such statements run against public peace and harmony.

“It is strongly believed that a resort to acerbic pronouncements by certain persons will not only heatup the polity but set the ground for deep-seated animosities and divisions among the populace. Also, it serves the country no good if its own citizens, whether at home or abroad, de-market or subvert her through misleading and false narratives.

“This is against the backdrop that reckless rhetoric can lead to social unrest and instability, which can put the country’s well-being and the general safety of citizens at risk.

“Similarly, the Service urges key players and their supporters in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states to conform to the rules of engagement and specifically the electoral law during the 11th November, 2023 gubernatorial elections in the areas. The aim is to avert situations likely to undermine the processes.

So far, the Service has substantially liaised with INEC, sister security agencies and relevant NGOs to ensure hitch-free exercises in the affected states.

“The Service, therefore, implores all stakeholders, irrespective of their political affiliations or grievances, to engage in respectful and constructive conversations that promote collective understanding. It has thus become imperative that public commentaries should shift towards unity and peace necessary for national development and security. This should be our shared responsibility and indeed the priority of everyone.

“Those on election duties, including the media and civil society, are encouraged to avoid things that will inflame sentiments and cause a breakdown of law and order. Broadcast and monitoring activities should be devoid of manipulations.

Stakeholders are enjoined to note that politics should not be used to destroy the country or any part of it.

“However, individuals or groups that may decide to engage in illegitimate acts or inimical conducts to public order will be decisively dealt with as dictated by the law. Forewarned is forearmed.”