The Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpotun-Idris has warned politicians in the country to desist from giving arms to political thugs as Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections.
Idris, while speaking on Thursday in Lagos at a one-day retreat on Electoral Logistics in preparation for the 2019 general elections organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) urged politicians not to see election as a “do or die” affair.
He also cautioned against hate speeches describing it as the ember for violence that should be eliminated from the country’s political space in order to ensure a violence-free polls next year.
Idris noted that hate speech and animosity have been identified as some of the major causes of electoral violence in Nigeria.
The Police chief also called on politicians to avoid conducts likely to cause violence at polling units, such as canvassing for votes, wearing of party insignias, dissuading voters from voting for candidates of their choice, loitering, blaring of siren among others on the day of election.
He assure Nigerians that the police has come up with a robust strategy to provide adequate security for electoral personnel and materials towards the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections.
According to the IGP, part of the strategy would be the provision of armed policemen to accompany INEC officials conveying both sensitive and none sensitive electoral material to storage facilities prior to election and ensuring that such facilities were properly guarded.
He said the at least four policemen/security personnel would be posted to each polling unit across the country to checkmate the activities of political thugs, especially ballot snatching and attacks on polling officers.
He pointed out that the various arms of the force, including anti-bomb/explosive units would be deployed at collation centres to forestall any eventuality.
He said Police helicopters would also be deployed for air surveillance during and after the elections as well as vehicular patrol/ interventions units at ward, local government and state headquarters to enforce restriction of movement and ward off any act capable of disrupting the election.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman thanked the IGP and other dignitaries at the event for finding time to attend the retreat in spite of their tight schedule even as he expressed satisfaction with the arrangement so far put in place by the Police to make the 2019 general election a success.
He appealed to Nigerians to support INEC in order to succeed in its mandate of conducting credible, free and fair election that would be acceptable to all in 2019.
Yakubu said the commission would not rest on its oars to ensure a level playing field for all and urged politicians to play by the rules of the game for the benefit of all Nigerians.