The Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba, has expressed the preparedness of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for the 2023 general elections in the country saying 310, 973 officers and men have been mobilised to provide security during the polls scheduled for February 25 and March 15.
The IGP, who spoke with newsmen at the State House, Abuja on Thursday also said other security outfits, besides the military and the Department of State Service (DSS), will compliment the efforts of the police with a total of 93,133 personnel, bringing all to 404, 106 personnel.
His words: “Nigeria police will deploy 310,973 personnel for the elections security operations. This will comprise of the conventional policemen, the mobile policemen, the special counterterrorism unit, the special forces, intelligence response team and other sections of the police.
“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 police 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 compliment 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”.
According to him, 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 votes 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.
“In addition, the unique technical intelligence assets of the force are also being deployed towards identifying adverse elements that may be planning to disrupt the process. Through this initiate, such elements will be identified real time, geo-located, isolated, arrested and brought to justice”, he said.
The Police boss, who listed some threats against the conduct of the elections to include fuel scarcity and cash squeeze, assured that the situation with both would stabilise before the commencement of the exercise.
“We are very sure the situation of cash and petrol will stabilize before the conduct of the election”, he stated.
On what the police would do to address post election challenges and the preparation to ensure elections were held in South East and North West zones, Baba 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.”
Commenting on the issue of the factional leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Simon Ekpa, the police boss said all necessary protocols would be respected as he was inciting people from Finland which was outside the country.
He added the police would change the narrative by ensuring that people saw his action of declaring curfew and asking people not to vote in the South East as acts of incitement meant to destabilise the country.
Baba also absolved the police of any blame over low prosecution of electoral offenders, saying “the Electoral Act as amended gives us latitude to investigate but not to prosecute. We have done much but prosecution is very low”.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja