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The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba on Thursday revealed that the Nigerian authorities are not taking the threat from one Simon Ekpa, who claims to be a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) lightly, claiming that there will not be elections in the southeast.
It was reported that Ekpa, who resides in Finland and is allegedly being sponsored by some external forces outside the southeast and a few miscreants within the zone is responsible for the continued lock-down of the economy through the so-called sit-at-home on Mondays and some other designated days.
The IGP also said that about 404,106 personnel from police and other security agencies will be deployed for the conduct of the February 25 and March 11 elections in the country to ensure the smooth conduct of the exercise.
While appearing at the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the IGP said the threat made by Ekpa against conducting elections in southeast was an attempt to destabilize the country.
He also said that out of the 404,106 security personnel, the police will be providing 310,973 personnel while the balance will be sourced from complementary security agencies in the country.
Baba also said other security agencies besides the military and the Department of State Services, DSS, will compliment the efforts of the police with a total of 93,133 personnel, bringing all to 404, 106 personnel.
‘Nigeria police will deploy 310,973 personnel for the elections’ security operations. This will comprise of the conventional policemen, the mobile policemen, the special counter terrorism unit, the special forces, intelligence response team and other sections of the police.
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‘The manpower requirement for this exercise will be complemented by the military and other security agencies. In this regard, aside the military and the DSS, other security agencies will contribute a total of 93,495 personnel for the election security operations.
‘These include the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense, which will deploy, through the Police, 51,000 personnel; the Federal Road Safety Corps, 21,000; Nigerian Correctional Service 11,336; the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, 9,447; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 350, totalling 404,106 to the elections.
‘With this layout, a minimum of at least two personnel, drawn from the above agencies, will be jointly deployed to man each of the polling units across the country while the armed personnel will secure the public space, INEC facilities, vulnerable locations, border areas, as well as undertake armed escort duties for INEC personnel, materials and local and international observers.
‘We also expect the military to complement this situation by providing armed protection to critical national assets, ensure that the enforcement of movements are curtailed through the blocking of exit points and entry points to various states, local governments and so forth’, he said.
The police boss said an intelligence unit had been put in place to track and apprehend those who might engage in vote-buying and others who might want to disrupt the exercise.
‘As part of efforts to address the menace of vote-selling and buying, a special intelligence unit of the force has been constituted to clandestinely monitor the trend and work with EFCC, ICPC and INEC in identifying the network that may be involved in this illegality and apprehend them where possible.’
Alkali asserted that an intelligence unit is in place to track and apprehend those who may engage in vote buying and others who may want to disrupt the exercise.
On the red zones, he said, ‘The force has identified the following major crimes that could negatively impact on the peaceful Democratic trajectory.
‘We looked at offences like banditry and terrorism which is majorly located in the northeast geo-political zone, violent secessionist campaigns by elements of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network which has been targeting the symbols of democratic governance including INEC assets, police stations and personnel, military and other agencies as well as state government officials, and traditional institutions, all in an effort to attain or disrupt the 2023 general election.
‘We also have this growing misguided activities of the Oduduwa nation agitators who from intelligent sources of late are attempting to also attempt to destabilize the situation.
‘We have this issue of illegal small arms and light weapons trafficking which are being used to bring a lot of problems. We have issues including cyber crimes, cyberbullying, kidnapping and all sorts.
‘So, generally, the situation as it is against this background, the focus of the force has been to upscale our operational activities to stabilize these situations in order to ensure that the election takes place.
‘We have in place certain strategic operational and tactical measures to ensure a peaceful electioneering atmosphere in Nigeria.’
On what the police would do to address post-election challenges and the preparation to ensure elections were held in Southeast and Northwest, the IGP said the force was ready with the use of minimum force, adding that ‘We are prepared to confront any situation that requires special intervention from simplest to violent ways of confronting rioters.’
The IGP absolved the police of any blame over the low prosecution of electoral offenders, saying ‘the Electoral Act as amended gives us the latitude to investigate but not to prosecute. We have done much but prosecution is very low’.