The heads of Nigeria’s secret services and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on Thursday, warned leaders of all 18 political parties in the country against arming people with weapons before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
The intelligence agencies and the top cop, during a meeting at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, asked the party leaders to caution their supporters from creating tension in the land, saying those caught will face prosecution.
The meeting, it was gathered, was convened following the continuous attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the eruption of a series of violent incidents at the campaign grounds of some political parties.
Our correspondent reports that the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai, who were at the meeting, handed the warning to all political party leaders.
Apart from intelligence and security forces’ heads, representatives of all political parties and the INEC, led by its National Commissioner, Barr. May Agbamuche-Mbu, were also at the meeting.
‘52 violent cases recorded in 50 days’
Speaking before the meeting went behind closed doors, Baba said it became expedient following a noticeable trend in the national political space, which if not promptly addressed, could evolve into a potent threat to national security and the electoral process.
Specifically, the police chief said no fewer than 52 violent cases have been recorded between September 28, the day the political campaigns began formally and yesterday, November 17, saying majority of the cases were politically-motivated.
The IGP, who spoke on behalf of other heads of intelligence agencies, accused some state governors of manifesting traits of political intolerance, which often inflamed political tension.
According to him, security operatives have been receiving reports of some state governors who encourage political thugs and sub-national security outfits under their control to disrupt the seamless and “statutorily” guaranteed campaign activities of parties or candidates with whom they hold opposing political views.
Speaking further, the security agencies accused political party leaders of breaching the peace accord signed in September 29, where they promised to abide by the rule of law and the Electoral Act.
The police chief, however, vowed that any political leader identified as the sponsor of violence would be arrested and prosecuted.
“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 motivating to engage in violence at political rallies or any other political engagement to deserved justice,” he said.
Baba also appealed to INEC 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 posed to our democratic order by actors within the political system.