IGP Usman Alkali Baba

IGP Baba

worries over destruction of INEC assets

Inter-party intolerance, violence during campaigns, elections

… Conduct of State Governors manifesting traits of political intolerance

Juliana Francis

As political campaigns heat in different states and among different political parties, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alkali Usman Baba, has become perturbed by some emerging trends, which he frets may mar the forthcoming election.

Determined to ensure that the election was free, fair and void of violence, Baba called an emergency meeting between the Nigeria Police Force and strategic leaders across national security and intelligence agencies and the leadership of all the 18 registered political parties in the country.

He warned the governors and political parties that if political thugs were armed with any weapons and inspired by any political actor to advance an illegal act including attacking innocent citizens for political purposes or attacking INEC assets and personnel or any other critical infrastructure in the country, such persons and those orchestrating them stand the risk of being brought to justice for the specific crime associated with their conducts regardless of their political affiliation, status, or ambitions.

He narrowed down the troubling issues, down to three noticeable trends, which he urges to watch and check.

His words: “This meeting became expedient following a noticeable trend within the national political space which, if not promptly addressed, could evolve into a potent threat to our national security and the electoral process. Drawing from the experiences of the past, electoral violence both in the process leading to an election as well as the fallout of elections, has always constituted the most dangerous threat to our democracy.  Political violence manifests in three forms. First is violence that is targeted at the personnel and assets of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as recently witnessed in Ogun and Osun States. The second form of political violence manifests in form of inter-party intolerance and violence which often become particularly pronounced during campaigns, elections, and post-election phases. It is on record that not less than 52 cases of such politically-motivated, intra, and inter-party violence has been recorded across 22 states since the official commencement of campaigns for the 2023 General Elections on 28th September 2022.”

He said that the last form of political violence relates to the conduct of some State Governors who manifest traits of political intolerance which often inflame political tension.

“In this regard, we have been receiving reports of some State Governors who encourage political thugs and sub-national security outfits under their control to disrupt seamless and statutorily guaranteed campaign activities of parties or candidates with whom they hold opposing political views. In so doing, they deploy their powers and influences to either prevent the mounting of campaign billboards or pull them down, while also denying political opponents of spaces to undertake their campaigns or peaceful political congregations in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 (As amended). Most of the recorded violent incidents or threats often result from political extremism, misinformation, intolerance, wrong political orientation, hate speeches, incitement, and, most importantly, the desperation of strategic actors within the political field who often place their parochial political ambitions over and above national security interests and our nation’s stable democratic order. Such actors, usually give a wrong direction to their party faithful, arm them, re-orient them and encourage them to resort to the use of threat, violence, and other extra-legal means to frustrate competing political parties and impose their own faulty perception of politicking,” said Baba.

According to him, more worrisome was the fact that just about a month ago, the aspirants in 18 political parties publicly made a firm commitment to the nation to maintain peace and abide by rule of law and the Electoral Act in their political activities with the signing of the Peace Accord on 29th September 2022.

He noted: “To complement this, Mr. President had at various global and national platforms openly affirmed his commitment to deepening our democratic journey by encouraging the virtues of a peaceful electoral process in which the interests and wishes of the electorates take pre-eminence. This ladies, and gentlemen, is the foundation of democracy, and a deviation from this standard can only engender chaos within the national security space and threaten our democratic heritage. During the emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on 11th November 2022, the issue of violence within the political space was extensively discussed and it was recognised that there was an urgent need to adopt an all-stakeholders approach towards nipping the trend in the bud. In furtherance to this resolution, this meeting is, therefore, convened with the main agenda of engaging the political parties’ leadership on this trend and presenting a common front in addressing it in the overriding interest of our national security and democracy. In so doing, I must clearly emphasise that violence goes beyond politicking, it is a crime that is well captured under extant criminal laws, both in its planning and execution.  If political thugs are armed with any weapons and inspired by any political actor to advance an illegal act including attacking innocent citizens for political purposes or attacking INEC assets and personnel or any other critical infrastructure in the country, such persons and those orchestrating them stand the risk of being brought to justice for the specific crime associated with their conducts regardless of their political affiliation, status, or ambitions.”

He mentioned that it was important that all should appreciate two critical things, first, a peaceful order remains paramount to the attainment of the political ambitions and interests of all political actors and their parties and acknowledge the fact that political violence in any form, shape or manifestation was both an offence under the electoral act and a crime under extant criminal laws of the country.

He held: “Henceforth, therefore, we shall put machinery in motion that will in the most proactive manner identify, isolate, apprehend, and bring any political actor and the foot soldiers they might be motivated to engage in violence at political rallies or any other political engagement to deserved justice. We have also resolved to emplace firm actions that will deter targeted attacks on INEC assets across the country. More than a stern warning, this is a clarion call for us all, as security agencies and political actors to speak out with one voice in condemning political violence in overriding national security and democratic interests. On our part, and as an outcome of the ICEES meeting, the Nigeria Police Force working in collaboration with other security agencies has resolved to enhance intelligence gathering, sharing and utilisation of same to stem acts of political violence, upscale the deployment of security teams to all INEC assets and facilities nationwide with teams drawn from the Police, Nigeria Army, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Civil and Security Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Fire Service, take decisive lawful action against purveyors of hate speech, incitement to violence, mobilisation of thugs and other violations including the prompt arrest, investigation, and prosecution of offenders in line with the provisions of Sections 92 and 93 of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended. Those already arrested will face prosecution.”

Baba stated that despite all these initiatives, it was recognised that the leadership of each political party was critical in eradicating the menace of political intolerance, threat, violence and other negative tendencies in our democratic culture.

“This is because they are the strategic gatekeepers to our democracy whose conducts or misconducts do have a reverberating effect on the actions of their followers as well as on the national political space. It is for this reason that I wish to appeal to the leadership of all political parties here seated to be determined to show the right leadership virtues and publicly dissociate themselves from acts of political brigandage and violence as this is the only way we can reassure our citizens and the international community of our nation’s commitment to a peaceful 2023 General Elections. I wish to similarly appeal to the Independent National Electoral Commission to, in cognisance of their critical regulatory, enforcement and supervisory roles as enshrined in the Electoral Act 2022, assert their statutory powers and scale up their compliance actions towards complementing the Nigeria Police and other law enforcement agencies in checkmating the threats being posed to our democratic order by actors within the political system. This requires that INEC should take decisive actions against candidates and parties that violate the Electoral Act in the areas of conduct of political parties, candidates, and other actors in relation to hate speeches; campaign fundings regulations; encouraging, supporting, or inciting violence; and depriving political opponents of basic electoral rights guaranteed under the Act,” stated Baba.


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