Abuja- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday called on security agencies to cooperate with it for successful prosecution of election-related offences.
The Director-General of the Electoral Institute (TEI), Prof. Abubakar Momoh, made the call at a three-day training workshop for security personnel ahead of the 2015 general elections.
He said the commission needed the support of security personnel to secure materials, election records, election space, and evidence to ensure due diligence in prosecution.
“What often happens is a situation where for lack of evidence, for lack of proper records, inability of security personnel so involved to be willing to serve as witnesses, to be willing to come out and support with what they have recorded and what they have written.
“You will find out at the end of the day, cases are badly prosecuted or even struck out at frustration by judges and magistrates.
“At the end of the day people who should be in jail go scot free. What this does is that it emboldens them, both politicians and such culprits next time to even wreck heinous crime on the system.
“And this endangers the political space, it endangers electoral space and it endangers people who actually go out there to exercise their civil duties.
“So it is actually important that security personnel should cooperate with us, assist us to deepen this process,“ he said.
Momoh said with the cooperation of security personnel, the electoral process stood a better chance of being more credible, while the peoples’ confidence in a reliable electoral process would be renewed.
The director-general said that the commission would expect security agents to avert all forms of election violence in the 2015 general election.
“If there are security threats, it will have a fundamental impact on voter turnout and morale. People are not likely to turn out for any election where they suspect that there is not going to be security,“ he said.
According to him, the parameters for monitoring elections have changed as observers are are now concerned not so much about what the commission does or failed to do, but about what security agents do or fail to do.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, who was represented by Ghazzali Mohammed, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Election Planning and Monitoring, advised politicians to obey the law.
Abba said that the Nigeria Police in collaboration with other security agencies in accordance to the Section 117 of the Electoral Act would deal with anybody found to be fomenting trouble during the elections.
“We are going to deal with anybody that thinks he is above the law; that is our own; all we say is that the politicians should obey the law,“ he said.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the workshop, Mr Mohammed Haruna, the Director of Operations, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NCSDC), described the training as timely.
Haruna said the agencies would ensure that information from the training reached all relevant officers nationwide.
Present at the workshop were officers from the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corp, NSCDC, and the Department of State Security Service.
Others were the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Custom Service, the National Youth Service Corp, the Nigerian Prison Service, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. (NAN)