By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), and the Inspector General of Police (I.G.), Mr Muhammed Adamu, say henceforth sanctions await anyone that attempt to disrupt the country’s electoral process.
The security chiefs gave the warning at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expanded meeting of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Friday in Abuja.
Monguno, while addressing the meeting maintained there must be consequences for bad behaviour during elections.
“Bad behaviour not only in relation to thugs, criminal, outlaws and people who just want to upset the entire system, but our own elements and agents who either by design or default want to scuttle this process must be brought to book.
“For the first time in the history of this country, we must be able to carry through to a logical conclusion any act that is contrary to what the state had placed.
“Anyone who behaves outside the confines of legitimacy will have to be dealt with, while anything that is illegal will not be pushed under the carpet,” Monguno said.
The NSA said that lessons had been drawn from 2019 General Elections, including pre-elections preparations, the conduct of the elections and the post-election activities.
He gave assurance that the lessons would be reflected on the elections to be held early this year.
“We have a responsibility to securing this process, because the voters and indeed, the wider society have a lot of expectations from us and we need to fulfil the legitimate expectations of the people by behaving in accordance with the status.
“For those of us in the security environment, what we need to do is to address the challenges we had in the previous elections and to ensure that these things do not reoccur.
“Securing the environment, the electorate and those who will actually engage the process, the officials of INEC and other state officials, is a responsibility for all of us.
“Without active collaboration, we cannot achieve confidence in the larger society.
“It is extremely important also for us to know that this time around, whatever be the problems we had in the last elections, we must be able to address them.’’
Monguno reassured the nation that the security agencies would do everything possible to secure the environment and those people who were engaged in the electoral process.
The IGP and Co-Chair of ICCES, warned that serious action would be taken against anyone including security personnel, who want to compromise the electoral process.
“From now onward anybody either within the security agencies or INEC that want to compromise the electoral system will be sanctioned, starting from rerun elections scheduled for January.
“Immediately you are identified, we will take you out of the system to ensure that it is not disrupted, while such person will face serious sanction.
“The same thing with the politicians, if we do not do this, then removing violence and disruption of electoral process will not happen. The rerun election is going to be a test case of what I am saying,” Adamu said.
Adamu, however, called for synergy within security agencies performing election duties and INEC officials.
He said that no touts could commit any electoral offense on the Election Day without connivance from either security agencies or INEC officials or the politicians.
The INEC Chairman and a Co-Chair of ICCES, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, earlier expressed the Commission’s concerned that security deployment in some of the most recent elections left much to be desired.
Yakubu said that there was more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed.
He said that less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process, leaving the voters, election officials, party agents, observers, the media and even unarmed security personnel at polling units vulnerable to attacks by thugs and hoodlums.
“Furthermore, there is emphasis on numbers of security personnel but less on synergy, coordination and collaboration among the various security agencies in line with the purpose for which ICCES was established in the first instance.
“We must adopt a different approach to election security. We must translate the new approach to reality in the forthcoming re-run elections such that Nigerians will see a qualitatively different security arrangement.
“No thugs and hoodlums can be more powerful than the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies.
“It is the failure to act decisively and collaboratively that encourages thuggery and serves as an incentive for bad behaviour,’’ he said.
Yakubu disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) were now members of ICCES to curb vote buying.
He recalled that the recommendation for their inclusion was made in the last ICCES meeting.
“We expressed concern about the dimension that illegal deployment of financial resources to influence the outcome of elections, including vote-buying at polling units on Election Day, has assumed.
“The meeting, recognising the existing collaboration with the anti-corruption agencies in tracking financial flows for illicit purposes as well as the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of such flows.
“This is especially for the purpose of corrupting the electoral process through vote-buying, resolved that EFCC and ICPC should be included as members of ICCES.
Yakubu also expressed the commission’s readiness for the re-run elections to be held on Jan. 25 in 28 constituencies across 11 states in compliance with the orders of Election Petition Tribunals.