NO fewer than 360, 000 security operatives as well as 25 sniffer dogs from the United States would be deployed in the states for the 2015 general elections, heads of security agencies have said.
While Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, said about 300, 000 of his officers and men had been trained in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission and development partners, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr. Ade Abolurin, said that 60, 000 of his men would partake in securing lives and properties during the elections.
Abba and Abolurin, represented by the Deputy Commandant-General (Operations), Mr. Evan Ewurum, spoke on Friday in Abuja during the closing ceremony of a two-day conference on the role of the state and non-state actors in mitigating violence in elections, organised by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development in collaboration with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
The conference had as its theme, “Nigeria 2015 elections and Beyond.”
According to Abolurin, the NSCDC has also completed plans to import 25 sniffer dogs from the US to detect explosive components during the elections.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had setup an Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to provide security needs during elections.
The committee co-chaired by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), drew members from all the security agencies, including the military.
But a representative of the Department of State Security, Mrs. Mary Otubu, who did not make public the number of officers the DSS will deploy at the event, assured voters and government officials of their safety.
Abba said, “Policing the society has always been a challenge, all the police officers will be deployed in the elections; over 300, 000 officers will be used. The Commonwealth has also offered to help us in that respect of training by 21st of this month. Some of the trainings are even train-the-trainers until it gets to the last person on their roles during the elections.”
The IGP stated that the role of security agencies before, during and after the elections was key to the enthronement of a viable democratic culture.
According to him, the Federal Government has provided non-lethal weapons and about 2,000 patrol vehicles to ensure that the police perform their duties during elections.
Speaking on when a police officer should use firearms during elections, Abba said the time to use lethal weapons would depend on the discretion of the officers “but in compliance with the Police Act.”
Ewurum said all officers in the intelligent unit of NSCDC would be deployed for the elections.
Participants at the event urged government agencies against partiality but to show high level of professionalism.
A former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais, had, at the opening of the conference, regretted the non-implementation of the report of his Electoral Reform Committee, saying election crises being witnessed in the country would have been completely arrested long time ago if the report had been implemented.
He also expressed fears over the legal implication of the outcome of the February 14 presidential election if the exercise was not extended to the troubled states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.