Police Assure All Political Parties Of Adequate Security During Campaigns
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has assured all political parties of adequate security during their campaigns.
The IGP gave the assurance at the 2023 General Election Peace Accord signing ceremony organised by the National Peace Committee on 29th September 2022 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja
He affirmed that all quasi, pseudo and sub-national security outfits are banned from electoral space as they have no statutory roles to play in the process.
“Any attempt, therefore, by political actors at any level to form or deploy such outfits to advance partisan interest will amount to an offence punishable under the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the Nigeria Police shall perform its statutory mandate of enforcing the law by bringing such persons or any other persons whose acts violate the electoral law to justice, he said.
The statement reads, “I most heartily commend General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former Head of State and National Chairman of the National Peace Committee, as well as other most respected members of the Committee for their patriotism, national service, personal sacrifices, and exemplary commitment to the advancement of our beloved nation’s democratic journey.
“By the vision of the National Peace Committee, the Peace Accord signing events have now become an invaluable and integral component of our democratic practices. The significance of the initiative lies in the fact that it places moral burden on political actors, triggers their sense of patriotism, and challenges them to place national interest above narrow personal considerations in the legitimate pursuit of their political ambitions.
“Your Excellency, it would be appreciated that at various local and international engagements, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has consistently affirmed his commitment to bequeathing a legacy of deepened democratic system and credible electoral process to the nation. In furtherance to this, Mr. President has constantly charged all agencies linked to the democratic process including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies, as well as all Political Parties to internalize the ethics of democracy which emphasize the supremacy of the will of citizens as freely routinely expressed in election cycles under a peaceful and stable security and political order. It is also noted that Mr. President continues to strengthen the legal framework, processes, and capacity of institutions that are statutorily involved in the electoral system of the country.
“Today’s event complements Mr. President initiatives. This is to the extent that it strives to build a cross-political and all-inclusive consensus in committing political parties, candidates, and their agents to the path of conducting their campaigns in a peaceful manner and in due consideration of overriding national security interest towards a credible 2023 General elections. In aid of this process it is essential that this unique forum be utilized to remind all political parties, citizens, and other strategic stakeholder in the electoral process of key provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) in relation to conducts that could negate the spirit and intention of the Peace Accord.
“In this regard, our attention needs to be drawn to the electoral offences as captured in Section 225 (3) of the Constitution prohibiting political parties from holding funds or other assets outside the country. This is complemented by Sections 88-93 of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) containing provisions on campaign financing, election expenses, limit of donation by individuals to fund political campaigns of a candidate, falsification of documents relating to election documents and funding limits allowed by law.
“Cognizance must also be duly taken of Sections 94-102 of the Act which contains provisions on offences relating to campaigns by political parties and the expected conducts by strategic actors in the process, including the obligations of INEC officials, media, the Police and other security agencies. Under these Sections, the police are mandated to:
1. Provide adequate security for processions and political rallies;
2. Resolve conflicts of time and venue between parties in a consultative manner and;
3. Not to prevent any registered party from holding rallies, procession, or meetings
“The Act also prohibits political parties and their agents from violative conducts as follows:
1. Political campaigns or slogans must not contain abusive language or use of languages that are disrespectful to religious, ethnic or tribal belief;
2. Abusive, slanderous, extreme, vile insinuations or inferences likely to provoke violence must not be used in political campaigns;
3. Places designated for religious worship, the police station and public offices must not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions nor to promote, propagate, attack political parties, their candidates, programmes or ideologies;
4. Use of fear and intimidation such as use of masquerades, physical force or coercion in any form including the retention and use of private security organization, groups or individuals for purpose of providing security at processions is prohibited;
5. Sec. 81 of the Act and Section 227 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prohibit any political party or individuals from organizing, training, or equipping or deploying any quasi-military groups, or specially trained forces for partisan goals in the electioneering campaign or broad electoral process. This include and person or group trained for the purpose of forcing, coercing, or promoting any political objective or interest.
6. Political Parties and their agents are also prohibited from either directly or indirectly threatening a person with the use of force or violence during any political campaign to compel support to or refrain from supporting a political party or candidate;
7. In addition, Political Parties are statutorily requested to undertake their campaigns within prescribed time or period.
8. The Electoral Act also prohibits the possession of offensive weapons or missiles at a rally, procession or voting centre;
“In relation to the conduct of media practitioners, the Act provides that:
1. A person or electronic media or body corporate must not broadcast, publish, advertise or circulate any material for the purpose of promoting or opposing a political party or the election of a particular candidate over the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, handbill, or any print electronic media whatsoever called 24 hours immediately before polling day.
2. State Media must not be used for or against any political party or candidate
3. Media houses shall allot equal airtime coverage and conspicuity to all parties and candidates.
“In this regard, I wish to call on the National Broadcasting Commission to note these provisions and ensure that the activities of media practitioners are regulated, accordingly.
“Against these highlights, Sections 117-132 of the Act specifically identifies various electoral offences including forgery of electoral documents, disorderly conduct, propagating of falsehood, unlawful possession of firearms and offensive items, impersonation of voters, threats, bribery and inducement of electorates among others
“In relation to electoral officials, the Act identifies dereliction of duty by electoral officials and act or omission to do any act by electoral officials in breach of official duty, failure to report promptly at polling unit on an election day without lawful excuse, failure to discharge lawful duties at polling unit without lawful excuse, knowingly publishing or announcing false result election results, knowingly delivering or causing to be delivered a false certificate of return to any news media or knowingly conspiring to make false declaration of result as offences.
“All these offences which, though attract judicial punishments of fines and/or terms of imprisonment upon conviction constitute major threats to our electoral process, democratic advancement, and national security. As we sign the Peace Accord, it is incumbent on all the political parties and all other strategic stakeholders in the electoral process to be committed to sensitizing their members and officials to be conscious of these provisions and resolve to avoid freely and patriotically contravening them in the interest of our democracy and national security.
“I must, at this juncture, commend INEC for optimally leveraging on cutting-edge information and communication technology tools and introducing innovative actions that have proven to be effective in mitigating electoral offences of multiple voters registration, multiple voting, result alterations while on transit to collation centres, and effects of ballot box snatching. While these initiatives have deepened our democracy, it is worrisome that political actors are unrelenting in exploring new acts directed at circumventing the electoral process. One of such is the ignoble and unlawful acts of vote buying and attempted cyber attacks on INEC servers. We appreciate the assurances of INEC Chairman to continually safeguard the electoral process and assures of the support of the Nigeria Police in this process.
“I wish to appeal to Party officials to conduct their campaigns in a peaceful manner, devoid of ethnic, religious, and hateful rhetoric that could incite violence and aggravate insecurity in the nation while avoiding deployment of unauthorized security outfits to advance their interests in any manner. In drawing on specific examples, there are currently not less than eighty-eight (88) different quasi, sub-national security outfits established by State Governments and local communities as well as other non-state regulated pseudo-security outfits across the country under various nomenclature. We have been dealing with reports of the deployment of some of these outfits to advance partisan interests in in the countdown to the 2023 General Elections.
“Aside this, situations where political actors as part of the electioneering campaign process, engage in hate speeches, cyberbullying, false information, unguided statements that could inflame the political space as well as corrupting the electoral process through vote buying, or encouraging thuggery and political violence, ballot box snatching, illegal firearms dealing to advance political motives and subvert the free will of the electorates are potent dangers to our democracy.
“As we witness the signing of the Peace Accord, I call on all Political Actors across party lines to in overriding national security interest, seal the document from their hearts and as patriotic citizens and respected Statesmen who appreciate that there must be a peaceful Nigeria for their personal and collective political ambitions to thrive.
“On our part, as the lead agency in the election security process, I assure all political parties, the citizens, and the international community of our firm determination to synergise with INEC, leaderships of all Political Parties at all levels, Civil Society Organisations, the Military, Intelligence Community, other security Agencies and all other strategic stakeholder in guaranteeing a peaceful electioneering campaign engagements by all Political Parties towards delivering a credible 2023 General Elections.
“In furtherance to this we have commenced sets of actions to sensitize the political class on conducts that could pitch them against the law as the electioneering campaigns commences. These include issuing a public statement affirming that all quasi, pseudo, and sub-national security outfits are banned from electoral space as they have no statutory roles to play in the process. Any attempt, therefore, by political actors at any level to form or deploy such outfits to advance partisan interest will amount to an offence punishable under the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the Nigeria Police shall perform its statutory mandate of enforcing the law by bringing such persons or any other persons whose acts violate the electoral law to justice.
“In this regard, I have already directed all the Commissioners of Police across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT to meet with the leaderships of all Political Parties and Resident Electoral Officials in their States towards mutually evolving the campaign schedules in a manner that will address possible cross-party conflicts in date, time, and venue. I assure that a level playing field and adequate security will be provided for all the political parties during the campaigns. I, however, wish to specially appeal to all Political Parties to cooperate with the Nigeria Police in this process and in our general drive to ensure a peaceful electioneering campaign across the country.
“On this note, I convey my goodwill to this strategic gathering and pray that Almighty Allah (SWT) should continually perfect our beloved nation.