Ahead of the November 6, 2021, governorship election in Anambra State, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, on Tuesday overhauled an earlier security deployment in the state and named Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, Joseph Egbunike, to lead election operations in the state.
This is just as the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), also on Tuesday warned those planning to destabilise the election to have a rethink or be prepared to face the full wrath of the law.
Egbunike is from Onitsha, Anambra State.
The IG vowed to work with stakeholders to protect democratic values, provide level playing field for all political actors, ensure adequate protection of voters during the election.
The IG also ordered the deployment of five Assistant-Inspectors General of Police (AIGs), 14 Commissioners of Police (CPs), 31 Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) and 48 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs).
A statement issued by Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, who is a Commissioner of Police, stated that the overhauling included the deployment of selected seasoned strategic commanders from the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police and above to Anambra State for effective supervision of security personnel and operations in the elections.
It said Egbunike was deployed to Anambra State as the Coordinator of the security component for the elections.
“DIG Egbunike is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the “Operation Order” evolved from the election security threat assessment to ensure a peaceful environment devoid of violence and conducive enough to guarantee that law abiding citizens freely perform their civic responsibilities without molestation or intimidation.
“DIG Egbunike will be assisted by the DIG in-charge of Operations, Acting DIG Zaki Ahmed,” it added.
The statement noted that the senior officers were to coordinate human and other operational deployments in the three Senatorial Districts, 21 Local Government Areas and the 5,720 polling units in Anambra State.
“The IG reassures the nation that the force is adequately prepared for the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State come November 6th, 2021.
“He reiterates that the force will do everything within its powers to work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all stakeholders to protect democratic values, provide level playing field for all political actors, ensure adequate protection of voters, INEC personnel and equipment, accredited observers and other key players in Anambra State.
“The IGP calls on citizens in Anambra State to come out en masse and exercise their franchise as adequate security has been emplaced to protect them before, during and after the elections,” it added.
The IG had at a recent meeting with police mobile force commanders ordered them to deal ruthlessly with violent elements and political thugs, who may work against a transparent and credible outcome of the election.
The police chief had also read the riot act to squadron commanders, vowing to deal decisively with any commander that lacked command capacity and unwilling to key into the reform agenda of the IG.
Speaking at another meeting with AIGs and CPs afterwards, the IG ordered the mobilisation and deployment of a total of 34,587 police personnel, three police helicopters the state for the election.
He said the 34,587 personnel included conventional police officers, Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), special forces personnel, Explosives Ordinance Unit (EOD), Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), Interpol, Special Protection Unit (SPU) as well as police medical teams expected to be on ground to guarantee a hitch-free election.
Meanwhile, Monguno, who gave the warning at a general security appraisal committee meeting with military service chiefs and heads of other security agencies in Abuja, assured that the security agencies would ensure that there was no bloodshed, violence and intimidation during the elections.
He said the people of Anambra State were expected to elect their next governor without any rancour.
The NSA also warned all security operatives to apply self-restraint in the face of provocation.
“Our intentions, our aspirations are to see that the elections do not result in anything that is unwanted. Any bloodshed, any violence, intimidation, coercion or even terrorising the people of Anambra State.
“It is their fundamental right to vote and choose whoever they want as their governor and they should not be denied that right. More importantly they should not be put in a situation whereby they are reluctant to come out and vote,” he said.
Monguno maintained that the role of the security agencies was to instill confidence in the electoral process.
“Ours is to instill confidence in the entire South-east, particularly in Anambra State, to make sure that nothing happens to those people who will come out to vote.
“The security agencies have also been told to exhibit the highest level of professionalism, self-restraint, discipline and adherence to what is written in the statute.
“They must make sure that they do not allow themselves to be provoked. This is because we have made them to understand that they owe themselves responsibility to stay alive so they are not going to go there and sit, allow themselves to be harmed but at the same time they will have to work together with the community, the political leadership to ensure that nothing theatrical takes place”, he said.
He said the security chiefs received assurances that adequate security measures in the state were in place.
“We have been assured by the commissioner of police and the armed forces have put everything in place to be the second layer to make sure that lives are not lost.
“A lot of things have happened in the south-east in recent months, there are people and this is not peculiar to Nigeria, all over the world, there are agitation for certain things but there are ways in which you can realise your objectives without resorting to tactics that are not orthodox.
“President Buhari does not have an aversion towards democratic objectives being realised,” he said.
“Law enforcement agencies have been mandated to make sure that the elections are conducted without rancour, we will behave in conformity with the laws of the land and ensure that the people of Anambra State are protected,” Monguno stated.
In his remarks, Baba, while allaying the fear of the people of the state, urged them to come out en masse to exercise their rights
“The Anambra elections will witness joint deployment of all security operatives across the state. Mr President has been briefed on efforts to ensure a peaceful election without destruction lives and property,” he said.
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja