Towards Ensuring Adequate Security in 2023 Polls
By Abdulsalam Mahmud,
In less than two months from now, Nigerians will troop out en masse to cast their ballots for various presidential, gubernatorial, together with federal and state assembly lawmakers.
In particular, next year is one that will see a presidential transition, with President Muhammadu Buhari completing his tenure and handing over to any of the aspirants that will emerge victorious at the February 23, 2023 presidential election.
Ahead of the polls, violent activities of the secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, have led to the destruction of the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, across some States in the South East.
On Sunday, December 4 (about three weeks ago), armed persons attacked the INEC Office in Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State, making it the seventh attack on the commission’s facilities within the last four months.
The attack in Oru West occurs three days after another INEC office was attacked in Orlu Local Government Area of same Imo State.
Although the attacks on INEC offices have been happening across the country, the Commission has become a target of gunmen across the South-east in recent times. The attacks have raised fears about holding the 2023 general elections in the region.
About four months ago, some suspected arsonists razed an INEC office in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Also, two offices of INEC, in May 2021, were set ablaze by gunmen in Ebonyi State. The offices are located at Ezza North and Izzi local government areas of the state.
Another building belonging to the INEC, in May 2021, was also set ablaze in Imo State, Nigeria’s South-east. Again, in September 2021, the commission’s office was set ablaze in Awgu Local Government Area office in Enugu State.
Again, typical of some Nigerian politicians, they have started making unguarded utterances, capable of inciting violence and thuggery during prior, during and after the polls. It is even pathetic to learn that some politicians across the major political parties have been engaging in acts that show their desperation for power. Hence, it wouldn’t be surprising if they attempt to buy the conscience of electoral officials and security agents.
The Nigerian military, under the leadership of General Leo Irabor, seems ready to ensure that the 2023 polls are conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, and adjudged credible, fair and transparent by all and sundry.
Not only that, Gen. Leo, recently, assured Nigerians that the armed forces will not betray public trust in their resolve to defend democracy.
The CDS restated the determination of the military to resist all pressures to compromise next year’s general election.
According to him, security agencies are constantly under pressure to compromise the electoral process, but the military has chosen to stay neutral.
Gen. Irabor spoke at a ministerial briefing, organised by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa Abuja.
Noting that pressure come through inducements, the CDS said necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that the military obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to maintain neutrality.
In his remarks at the opening of the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference in Sokoto, last month, President Buhari directed the military to remain apolitical and continue to work within the bounds of the Constitution.
He told the Army to improve on its human rights obligations during operations in line with global best practices, reminding that personnel are being trained to be more professional with the rules of engagement before, during and after the elections codified and distributed to them.
The CDS said of the presidential directive: “I’m glad that you reiterated the Commander-in-Chief‘s directive to the armed forces. I’m afraid you say you have a worry. Rather than worry, I would rather think that trust should be anchored. Why?
“Of course, there will always be pressure from all quarters, wanting to induce security forces, not just the military, the security forces, the police, and that’s what criminal enterprise is all about, that is what something that is wrong is all about.
“But what makes the difference is the professional approach to dealing with those issues and that’s what the military, we, are committed to doing.
“Now, the reason why we have ramped up our training in that regard, sensitization, a lot of engagement across the formations and units, is being undertaken and then more so to no articulate code of conduct for all our personnel, which has been done and distributed.
“So, how they should act before, during and after the elections, these are being codified in the SOP that have been issued to them. So, it remains the duty of the commanders to ensure that the directive as indicated and the contents of the SOP are adhered to by every personnel in the armed forces.
“So, please, cease from worrying, rather trust and also engage others to trust that we will keep faith to these desires.”
He noted that the armed forces have heightened operational engagement across the country to tackle contemporary and emerging threats, putting contingency plans to facilitate the smooth conduct of the 2023 General Elections in support of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in conjunction with other security agencies.
He spoke of the key achievements of the military in the effort to keep the country safe including more recruitment into all branches of the security services, routing of insurgency and banditry as well as the action to curtail oil theft leading to increase in crude oil production.
He also said that over 300,000 people have been freed from the hands of abductors since 2014 while refugees who fled the Northeast due to insurgency have started to return.
Gen. Irabor also said that the repentant insurgents now being trained will graduate in February next year before their reintegration into the society.
On the fight against banditry, the CDS said the armed forces have strangulated bandits supply chain and destroyed several hideouts.
On crude oil theft, he noted Nigeria’s colossal loses of oil revenue as at 2014 that was about N1.92 trillion, saying that piracy and kidnapping were unprecedented just as several illegal pipeline connections were used to steal crude oil and illegal entry of unauthorized vessels undetected.
He affirmed that between January and July 2022, Nigeria lost about 437, 000 barrels of oil per day to criminal entities.
Gen. Irabor said as part of the solution, Falcon Eye Maritime intelligence facility was commissioned in July 2021, offshore Patrol Vessels were purchased, and operational deployments and capabilities were rejigged.
“The President directed the CDS to coordinate the kinetic and non-kinetic interventions to curb oil thefts. Through several joint operations, security operatives destroyed 959 metal tanks, 737 ovens, 452 dug-out pits, 355 cooking pots, 179 wooden boats, recovered 35.8 million litres of crude, 22 million litres of diesel, 25,000 litres of PMS, 207 pumping machine and 12 welding machines.”
*Mahmud is the Deputy Editor of PRNigeria, and wrote in via: firstname.lastname@example.org*
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