The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno on Friday in Abuja alerted the nation to “rogues” planning to disrupt the 2023 elections and vowed to deal with them.
Monguno gave the warning at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), comprising the Army, Airforce, Police and Department of State Security, among other security agencies, and hosted by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
This is coming on the heels of the burning of INEC office in Ogun State last Thursday by hoodlums.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s commissioner for information and voter education, had said critical election materials including over 65,000 uncollected PVCs were destroyed in the fire.
The commission also reported an attack on one of its offices in Osun.
Afterwards, an emergency meeting with members of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security was summoned.
Speaking at the meeting, Monguno said he was aware that in the last month, at least 52 cases of electoral violence across 22 states in the country had been reported.
He described the situation as a bad signal that must be dealt with decisively.
The NSA said: “We’re all aware of the fact that the president, as far as he is concerned, is committed to upholding and safeguarding democracy. This is what the people want.
“The president has also given his directives, through me, to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of any rancour.
“Now, I want to assure you that security agencies have been given clear-cut instructions to deal with any situation in which any rogue organisation or institution decides to embark on what we consider to be a fundamentally criminal undertaking.
“Any political party, including the party of the president, that wants to have a hand in violence, will face the consequences.
“Now, for those people who control these groups that have a tendency for unleashing violence, those people who have gangsters working for them, I want to send a very clear categorical and unequivocal warning, regardless of any party including the party of the president.
“For as long as you decide to scatter the election process, the law enforcement agencies will be uninhibited and equally visit you with the consequences of whatever actions you take.”
The NSA urged people with history of organising and controlling groups, to re-assess, re-evaluate themselves.
He said: “Hold your people and advise them that as long as they behave in a manner that suggests non-compliance with the election laws, they will be held accountable.
“Therefore, it is important to call the people under your control, those thugs, those bloodthirsty-trigger-happy, straining-at-the-leash, foaming-at-the-mouth, desperate to harm the election process — they will be brought to law. Already, intelligence agencies have been tracking these people; this I can guarantee you.
“Have a nice, quiet fireside chat with them and tell them to lay down whatever plans they have because whoever wins in any state, whichever party wins, has won. This is the intention of the president of this country. There will be no excuse whatsoever.
“So, if you think you can stretch security agencies, I think you’re making a mistake. You will be brought to book. If you think we have a history of not following through with whatever instructions given to us, I think this time you will be in for a real shocker.”
Yakubu: Violence Can Derail 2023 Elections
At the security meeting, the INEC boss also expressed worries over the incessant attacks on political convoys and political campaign rallies, stating that they have the capacity to derail the 2023 elections.
The INEC chairman called for a swift apprehension of the election violence perpetrators, as well as their prosecution, warning also that delay could be dangerous.
According to the INEC Chairman, who gave statistics on attacks, “the country has witnessed 50 incidents across 21 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
“These unhappy occurrences are coming just a little over one month into the election campaign which is scheduled to last for about five months from 28th September 2022 to 23rd February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and from 12th October 2022 to 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and Houses of Assembly).
“The Commission is worried that if no urgent and decisive steps are taken, the attacks will intensify as we approach the election date. As we all know, a peaceful campaign heralds a peaceful election. We need to take decisive steps to stem the ugly trend.”
Yakubu said as a body, ICCES brings together security, safety and other agencies responsible for securing the process and ensuring peaceful elections in Nigeria.
“Understandably, Nigerians expect a decisive action from ICCES. It is important that we move swiftly to apprehend perpetrators, prosecute them as required by law and reinforce security around election officials and electoral infrastructure around the country.”
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba said some arrests had already been made in connection with campaign violence and that investigations are ongoing.
Others present at the meeting included the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar.