For the umpteenth time, the Federal Government has raised the alarm of alleged plots by some unnamed individuals and groups, to.sabotage the forthcoming general elections scheduled for February 16, and March 2 respectively.
The alarm was raised by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), and minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd).
Monguno, who met behind closed-doors with the Nigeria Givernors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja, said in a speech, that the alert was a product of “recent intelligence reports”.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed, had raised a similar alarm last week.
At a press briefing in Abuja, Mohammed had said, among others, that: “Having realized that their fortunes have dwindled badly ahead of the polls, the desperate opposition is orchestrating widespread violence with a view to truncating the elections, thus triggering a constitutional crisis that could snowball into the establishment of an interim government,” Lai said.
”Before you accuse the government of crying wolf, let me tell you, gentlemen, that we have credible intelligence that armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have been mobilized to engage in massive attacks and other acts of violence in several states across the country, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara”.
The NSA has, however, ordered security operatives across the country to identify and deal appropriately with acts capable of derailing the polity.
While vowing zero tolerance for political thuggery before,during and after the elections, Monguno further warned that quasi security outfits, howsoever referred to, will be allowed to participate in election security duties.
He,therefore, called for the support and collaboration of all stakeholders, saying security remained a clective responsibility.
Monguno said: “It is with a great sense of responsibility and a firm commitment to national cohesion and security that I bring before you some issues that are critical to our common good and the peacejw state of our country, Nigeria.
“In view of the usual stereotype that elections in Nigeria are always followed by violent clashes and sometimes loss of lives and property, the security agencies have been working round the clock to ensure that the next general elections are free of any form of the usual after-election violence.
“However, recent intelligence reports have indicated plans by some individuals and groups to instigate violence during and after the coming elections.
“Reporte reaching me have revealed that some individuals that are uncertain of their fate in the elections are plotting to precipitate widespread violence aimed at scuttling the conduct of the polls. Their strategy is to cause crises that could snowball into endless crises for the government and citizens
“There are indications that these unscrupulous elements are already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists to orchestrate violence during the elections in several states of the Federation.”
On what the government will do to perpetrators of violence, the retired two-star General noted: “In the same vein, we shall not spare any effort to do the needful in any event of activities that threaten the security and welfare of Nigerians
“Therefore, I wish to state that no pseudo or quasi security outfits, such as vigilantes or under any guise, is allowed to participate in election security duties.
“Government will demonstrate zero tolerance to political thuggery and illegal bearing of fire-arms. The IGP has instructed the various commands to arrest anyone bearing fire-arms illegally or engaging in acts of violence”.
Notwithstanding, the NSA disclosed that efforts were being intensified to create a conducive environment for peaceful polls, even as he reiterated that, “our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken”.
The Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), had earlier expressed a similar position in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Mr. Mohammed Manga.
“The Federal Government has given further directives to all security and law enforcement agencies in the country to ensure and safeguard the sanctity of the 2019 General Elections.
“The Honourable Minister of Interior, Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, gave the directive today (yesterday) in his office in Abuja”, Manga said
He quoted the minister as saying that: “Security reports indicate that some individuals and groups of persons, including politicians and their sponsors are bent on subverting the integrity of the electoral process.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, I want to reiterate the commitment of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief to the rule of law. I also want to assure all peace-loving Nigerians in the entire country that this Administration is committed to free, fair and credible elections.
“In this regard, all security and law enforcement agencies are under strict instruction to safeguard the sanctity of the 2019 General Elections and that anybody found engaging in covert or overt action capable of sabotaging or subverting the process, with the aim of denying the citizens of Nigeria their right to vote for any candidate or party of their choice, or to cause public disorder, will be dealt with in accordance with the law”.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Givernors’ Forum, has expressed concern over “proliferation” of illegal arms acriss the country.
In a communique read to journalists by Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Abdul’aziz Yari, the NGF said members were “committed to collaborating with security agencies to ensure that the forth coming general elections were free,fair and conducted in an environment conducive for peaceful elections.”
According to the Forum: “Governor’s are however concerned about the proliferation of arms and ammunition, and the spate of kidnapping across the country.
“The Forum recommends stronger collaboration and intelligence sharing amongst security agencies in the country to ensure that all lives and property are protected, regardless of individual or group affiliations.
“We commend the Nigerian security agencies including the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA; the Nigeria Police Force, NPF; the Department of State Security, DSS, for the security arrangements that are being put in place to achieve violence-free elections next month.
“We seek stronger synergy between governors as the Chief Security Officers of their respective states and the heads of security agencies to strengthen preemptive measures of curbing election violence and other antisocial vices.”
In a brief interview with journalists, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, reiterated his warning against thuggery and other violent conducts.
Adamu further disclosed that security operatives will undertake illegal arms’ mop up operation across the country.
On fear of bias, Adamu said: “All the security agencies have pledged to be professional and neutral in the process of the election. So, nobody should be in doubt about the neutrality of security agencies”.