National Security Adviser (NSA) Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba Akali have read the riot act against further attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) facilities across the country.
The duo said security agencies have been given directives to deal decisively with individuals or groups working to scuttle the 2023 electoral process.
Mungono and Akali also slammed political actors over violent clashes at political meetings and rallies.
INEC said it has so far tracked 50 incidents of physical attacks during the ongoing political campaigns across 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Commission’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, noted that “these unhappy occurrences are coming just a little over one month into the election campaign which is scheduled to last for about five months from 28th September 2022 to 23rd February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and from 12th October 2022 to 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and Houses of Assembly)”.
The trio spoke at the emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) at INEC Headquarters.
The NSA assured that the security agencies have been given clear cut instructions “to preempt and deal with any situation in which any rogue organization or institution the decides to embark on what we consider to be a fundamentally criminal enterprise”.
He said: “I am aware of the fact that within a period of just one month from October 8, to November 9, we’ve had 52 cases of violence across 22 states of the Federation. This is a bad signal. This is something that we do not want to continue. This is something that’s going to result in a lot of complications.
“We’re all aware of the fact that the President as far as he’s concerned, he is committed to upholding and safeguarding democracy. This is what the people want. The President has also given his directives through me to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of rancor.
“Those people who have gangsters working for them, I want to send a very, very clear warning, a categorical and unequivocal warning to each and every one, regardless of whichever political party, including the party of the President, for as long as you decide to scuttle the electoral process, the law enforcement agencies will equally be uninhibited in reacting to whatever actions you have taken.
“You will be visited with appropriate and commensurate response. I want to assure you, and I’m saying this with all sincerity, so those people who feel they have had a history of organizing and controlling groups that have an inclination for excessive, immoderate and inordinate behavior, I want to send this warning to you, please, reevaluate, whatever contemplation you have been making.
“Call your people and advise them that as long as they do not behave in a manner that suggests compliance with the electoral laws, you will be held accountable. Therefore, it is important for you to call those people and you know the people under your control, those trigger happy hoods foaming at the mouth, desperate to have the opportunity to undermine the electoral process, they will be brought to book. Already the security agencies intelligence agencies have been tracking these people.
“This I can guarantee you, you need to do yourself a favor. Call your people, your hoods, talk to them, have a nice quiet fireside chat with them and tell them to lay down whatever plans they have because whoever wins in any state whichever party that wins, that party has won. This is the intention of the President of this country. There will be no excuse whatsoever.
“So if you think you can stretch security agencies, I think you’re making a mistake. You need to reconsider your position. Nobody’s going to take any excuse because the security agencies have been directed to behave in the same manner. I think a word is enough for the wise. Those people in the position to call to order these criminal elements, I’m giving you a word of advice, please reconsider your position”.
The IGP said he has directed Commissioners of Police to upscale security arrangements around INEC offices.anf facilities across the states.
According to him, the incidences of intolerance by politicians is a major threat to the electoral process.
INEC Chairman, while lamenting the escalating attacks on its personnel and facilities, called for a decisive and swift response from the security agencies to check the trend.