As candidates and parties go about their electioneering activities, the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, yesterday warned that the police will not hesitate to deal with political actors who flout the electoral rules as stipulated in the Electoral Act.
He stressed that nobody is above the law.
This comes as the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) also rubbished insinuations that the forthcoming elections will be postponed. The commission noted that funding is not a problem in conducting the elections.
The position of both public organisations was declared yesterday at a workshop for the training of security agencies ahead of the general elections. The training for the officers, who according to INEC is about 50, is supposed to trickle down to officers in the rank and file.
Some of the security agencies present at the training include the Police, Immigration, Prisons, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Directorate of State Services (DSS).
The Army which was used for the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections were not seen at the training.
But speaking on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, the commissioner of police in charge of election monitoring, Mohammed Ghanzali, said the police being the leading security agency for all elections, will enforce the rule of the law, saying “If you (political actors) commit any offence, the agencies here will go back and ensure they cascade what they have learnt here today and you will be arrested and dealt with accordingly. Politicians must play by the rules.”
Referring specifically to politicians planning to cause trouble in the course of elections, he said, “The only thing is that we are going to deal with anybody that thinks he is above the law. Politicians should obey the rule of the law.”
He said, “We are to make sure that we secure the area as the leading agency for election. We have nothing to say other than for them to obey the law. If they don’t obey the law, we will deal with them in accordance with the law.”
On the number of policemen that would be deployed for the 2015 elections he said “The population depends on the polling units and the security agencies we have around. The commissioner of police in the state will be the one to deploy. He knows what is on the ground.
When you talk of national it can’t hold without the states. So you have all the states and all the states have commissioners so the commissioners will deploy the members.”
Responding to allegations that the police was partisan, in favour of the ruling PDP, he said “the police can never be partisan that is why we are here as the leading agency to ensure that we secure the area. If they want the police to be partisan, they would not have been called to ensure the security of the area. All those that are voting have the party they want to vote for. So they have sympathy for the parties they want to vote for. We are just there to ensure there is law and order and that every stakeholder plays by the rules.”
He however said the logistic issues facing the police “depend on the state.”
He noted that the training for the security personnel is aimed at ensuring that the officers would go back to the states and “to each senatorial district to ensure that the training cascades to all other security personnel from area commanders to divisional officer and down to the ladder.”
Speaking on behalf of the INEC chairman, Dr. Ishmeal Igbani, who doubles as the chairman of INEC’s Electoral Training Institute, doused tensions surrounding the 2015 election.
He stated that there was no basis for concern over funding of INEC with regards to the forth coming general election as the commission was comfortable with the fund it has.
He said “anytime there is election in Nigeria there is always some form of tension. I have been around for a while I don’t think it is something new. I don’t think people should be afraid. But it is also essential that we get ready just in case. It is also very important that we have paceful election, it is also important that voters come out to vote without fear. It is also important that the personnel who will work for us and the enviroment itself is peaceful and for it to be pecaeful it is important for the security agencies to be alert and ensure that they do what they are supposed to do.
On lack of Army presence at the training, Dr Igbani said “it could mean that they were not wearing their uniform.” But when reminded that they were not introduced as part of the process, he said “maybe they were invisible. In any case, I cannot answer why somebody is present or not.”
On the training proper, he said a minimum of 50 personel were being trained. “We call this a cascade training. After this training of trainers, they will now go to their various security organisations to train others and this will go down the line; in that way, more will be trained in a cheaper way.”
On elections holding in the North East, he said “our work in the commission is to conduct elections, other people have been giben that assignement. They are in abtter postion to answer that. But what I can tell you is that once the coast is clear we will hold elections.”
Dispelling rumours of postponement of elections on ground of funding for INEC he said “I am just hearing of that for the first time. Nobody will postpone election, why will it be postponed? “we are. Comfortable with what we have.”
On the submission of report by committee for Internally Displaced Persons, he said “they have not submitted their report in fact last night they were still holding their meeting. So perhaps by today their reports will be out. They have not submitted their report that is why we have not heard anything.”