Usman Baba, the Inspector-General of Police, has indicted politicians and other popular dignitaries of masterminding the recent attacks on the officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in different parts of Nigeria.
Baba who was represented by Dandaura Mustapha, the Deputy Inspector-General, Department of Operations, disclosed this on Friday when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating attacks on INEC assets across the country.
In the same vein, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, cautioned that the persistent attacks on assets belonging to the electoral body may negatively impact the conduct of the election next year.
Baba said that Nigeria Police Force, being at the forefront of internal security and elections generally, was most affected by the attacks, noting, “Whatever happens, it is the duty of the police to protect here and there.
“The campaigns commenced and what we realised initially was inter and intra-party disputes. We realised that members of political parties were destroying billboards, posters and campaign offices in some parts of the states. We quickly alerted the commissioners of police in charge of the commands and gave them a clear directive that it is the right of every political party to go to all the nooks and crannies of society and campaign. It is a constitutional right, so on no account does a state governor or any state actor should prevent political parties from moving about to do their campaigns.
“We now come to the immediate attacks on INEC facilities. Of recent, the ones that took place in Osun and Ogun, then last week in Ebonyi, Imo and Enugu; it is a well known fact that in the South-East geopolitical zone, we have issues of secessionists – the IPOB and ESN. These groups are bent on stopping elections from taking place in the South-East. They have been attacking our personnel; they have been retrieving arms from members of the security agencies, not only the police but the military and other paramilitary organisations that are there. They have been doing it, especially now that the embargo on campaigns has been lifted.
“The election is approaching very fast and they are putting much pressure to see that this election does not hold in the South-East geopolitical zone.
“In the South-West, we equally have the pro-Yoruba secessionists that are equally bent on seceding and not allowing election to take place in their areas, hence the attack on INEC in Osun and Ogun of recent. Those ones are also sponsored by politicians and other stakeholders.”
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The IGP added, “The failed politicians are those who could not come back through any political party, and as far as they are concerned, let everything spoil, let everything scatter. They are using that opportunity to sponsor illiterate followers of the parties and hoodlums to make sure that this general election does not hold and should not be successful,” Baba added.
The IG recalled that on November 17, 2022, he held a meeting with political party leaders and INEC, where it was agreed that all political parties were free to go about their campaigns in all the states, but they should talk and work on their followers to desist from hooliganism.
Also speaking, Yakubu regretted the attack on its offices across the country, especially in the South-East in addition to the damage caused by flood.
The INEC boss said, “The attacks have far-reaching implications on preparations for the general election. First, the facilities that are destroyed, especially offices, will take time to rebuild. They are not like items of procurement that you can procure off the shelf. So, an alternative arrangement has to be made. So, in some of the states, in addition to these malicious attacks, other matters that have arisen as a result of fire and flooding, we will have to make alternative arrangements by renting in some places we can find facilities to rent. In some of the remote areas, we may not find facilities to rent; so, we have to look for alternatives to the damaged facilities.
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