As political parties gear fully into the campaign season, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba-Alkali, has urged political parties and politicians to allow the police to regulate their campaign activities for the 2023 general elections.
Baba-Alkali, who made the call in Maiduguri, in Borno state while speaking to pressmen said the measure was to contain any possible breakdown of law and order.
He noted that he wasn’t saying so to push parties to apply for permits before they campaign or rally but to provide security for their campaign activities and give consultation on other party’s campaign dates to avoid clashes.
The IGP said, “I want to beg the politicians and political parties to give us the opportunity to regulate their processions, rallies and campaigns so that they do not have a clash.”
Baba-Alkali said the request was solely in the best interest of all and that “It’s a matter of regulating for the benefit of all, to avoid things getting out of control.”
While assuring the force’s commitment to ensuring security for the 2023 election, the IGP said the use of pseudo-security agents by any politician or party would not be tolerated.
He reiterated the need for community policing for maximum results in containing criminals, adding that the 10,000 police earlier recruited by the force had been deployed to their various Local Government Areas (LGAs) to enhance community policing.
“Right now we have another 10,000 recruits undergoing training that we hope to graduate before the election,” Baba-Alkali said.
He appreciated the role of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in line with community policing in Borno where they played a critical role in exposing insurgents in their communities to the authorities.
He added that the successes the force achieved in fighting Boko-Haram couldn’t have been possible without injecting CJTF.
“The CJTF assisted greatly as they know who is who in the area and led security to flush them out. That is what we want to copy, as security is all about everybody playing his quota, what your next neighbour is doing must interest you,” the IGP said.
Baba-Alkali, who is in Borno for a two-day working visit also inaugurated some police projects in Beneshiek and Maiduguri.
It would be recalled that the IGP met with commissioners of police and other top police officers in Abuja, last month to discuss issues bordering on the 2023 general election.
Those present at the IG’s Conference include deputy IGs, CPs from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, and other senior police officers.
The conference was focused on dissecting current law enforcement realities in order for the police to engage in an all-inclusive approach to re-evaluate policing strategies against the backdrop of the dynamics of crime in the country.
The IG noted that the main purpose of the conference was to review the evolving political programmes as laid out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and chart clear pathways to ensure a smooth electoral process in the countdown to the 2023 general election.
“As you are aware, in compliance with Sec. 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC has confirmed that electioneering campaigns by all political parties would officially commence on September 28, 2022,” he said.
In a Punch Newspaper report, the IGP said the import of this was that the national political space will soon become active and the possibility of an increase in politically related offences may become heightened across the country.
And that the lead security agency in the election security process, the political campaigns security governance is, primarily, the statutory obligation of the Nigeria Police Force.
He added that the provision of the requisite professional leadership to achieve election security mandate rests squarely on the shoulders of the police chiefs there present, adding that the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty which was issued in 2020 by the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, must remain a guide.
He said, “These two election security instruments grouped the mandate of the police into four key fields as follows: Ensuring the safety and security of all persons and properties that will be involved in the entire electoral process without bias.
“Strict enforcement of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Criminal/Penal Code as well as the electoral laws without fear or favour; Security, traffic, and crowd management at venues of political parties’ campaigns, rallies and other activities relating to the elections. The security of the public space towards guaranteeing a crime-free and enabling environment for the political campaigns and other components of the electoral process to thrive.”