Nigeria's National Council of State (NCS) has approved the deployment of the military, riot police, police and other security agencies across Nigeria, 48 hours before the general elections, which begin on Saturday, April 2, to prevent violence during the elections.
The NCS is made up of the president, former heads of state, ex-presidents, Senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, state governors, service chiefs and the inspector general of police.
Speaking with journalists after a meeting on Tuesday, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, the Inspector- General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim, warned that individuals who have nothing to do with the elections should remain indoors during the voting exercise and added, saying "48 hours or more before the elections, there would be increased deployment of mobile policemen, conventional policemen, and other law enforcement agencies as well as the military. This is with a view to ensuring that no chances or opportunities are allowed for thugs, rogues and vagabonds in order to make proper efforts to disrupt the exercise,â€ť
â€śApart from this deployment, at the polling unit, there shall be police and other law enforcement agencies whose duty it is to proper conduct of electorate and voters as well as security of voting materials as well as INEC officials.â€ť
There shall be patrols in and around all voting areas by armed policemen as well as armed military offices. The fact remains that this country as well as the law enforcement agents representing this country are determined and will not allow any act of thuggery, any act of violence and any act that would disrupt the conduct of free, fair, rancour-free, peaceful as well as acceptable general elections.â€ť
â€śFor the avoidance of doubt, I want to make it clear that anybody within the vicinity of this election process that is found to be doing any act or conducting themselves in any manner inimical to the peaceful conduct of this election shall be arrested and shall be prosecuted,â€ť
â€śThe much talked about distances or that people would be allowed to stay or not at the polling station, they would be allowed to stay there as long as they conduct themselves peacefully and not otherwise. Anybody that is found to be in a position to threaten the conduct of the election shall be arrested and prosecuted.â€ť
When questions were asked about the Nigeria police being impartial during the elections, the IGP responded saying that he expected journalists to be more reasonable instead of being â€śunreasonable and irresponsibleâ€ť and when the journalists protested his choice of words and asked him to apologise, he refused to answer any other questions and walked out of the briefing.
Those at the meeting included President Goodluck Jonathan, Governors, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Shagari; former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon and Muhammadu Buhari; Hafiz Ringim, the Inspector General of Police, and Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Atahiru Jega, also spoke with journalists after the meeting and said that INEC has finalised arrangements for a free, fair, credible and violent free election. He also said, â€śI made a presentation on behalf of INEC to the Council on the state of preparedness and in summary, INEC is now well prepared, well positioned to conduct elections which will go a long way to satisfy the aspirations of Nigerians for free and fair elections.
We have prepared adequately in terms of logistics, in terms of the training of our staff and in term of effective liaison with security agencies in order to provide security before, during and after the elections.
â€śA lot has been put into this exercise and we plead for the support of all Nigerians to make the elections free and credible and to also make them non-violence. We preach peace and we want to work towards peace and to ensure there is no violence on election day."
â€śI am very pleased that one of the key issues at the Council of State today was the commitment of all stake holders to promote peace, to promote non-violence and to ensure that voters are adequately educated.â€ť
He also spoke about the time allotted for voting and said, "Anybody who isnâ€™t on queue for voting after 12.30 pm wonâ€™t be allowed to vote. We are fully prepared for the election that is coming on Saturday.â€ť
The INEC chairman also clarified comments attributed to him saying that he asked voters to remain at the polling stations after voting to protect their votes, but he said that he only suggested that people can stay and watch the votes being counted . He added, saying, â€śObviously, there is concern for crowd control as where over 200 people are gathered or where we have more than 500 gather at one point. If they want to stay and wait for the counting, they can do that peacefully. We are not asking people to stay and defend their votes, but to watch the counting. Anybody who waits must stay quietly not to guard the vote.
â€śIt is advisable that anyone who votes should leave, but if they have to stay, they have to be peaceful as anyone, who breaches the peace will be arrested. Security men will do their job,â€ť
"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."
OMOTAYO, J. A. Lagos, NIGERIA April 01, 2011
Where were the security forces when Jos went into several crises? Where were the security forces when Ife / Modakeke went into several crises? Where were the security forces when Ondo State had her uprising in 1983 with about 1,500 dead and properties worth millions of Dollar destroyed? The foregoing is enough to show us that there will be loose security arrangement in place. Those who want to live to tell the story should keep off violence prone areas. God bless Nigeria
prince komolafe lagos, nigeria March 30, 2011
Good for our type of environment and the attitude of some politicians, I think the fear of the military men will make any one that is willing to behave funny to have a rethink. Nigeria as a nation can not afford to fold her hands and watch our hard earn democracy been trancated by disgrantuled elements in the society who did not wish Nigeria well .