There are grounds for many to believe that the reason given by the Department of State Security and the police for the postponement of the Edo State governorship election is both flawed and deficient in logic. This is thinking is further given fillip to by the seeming ineptitude of the new police leadership under the Inspector-General, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris. Davidson Iriekpen writes
The people of Edo State and Nigerians in general woke up last Wednesday to shocking news that the governorship election they had been preparing for last weekend, September 10, had been postponed. The Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigerian Police, which mooted the idea were said to have advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against conducting the election following alleged terror threat.
The decision to postpone the election, it was learnt, was taken after a closed-door meeting when the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, visited his DSS counterpart, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura in his office in Abuja.
A joint statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Don Awunah, and spokesman of the DSS, Mr. Garba Abdullahi, alleged that credible intelligence availed the agencies indicated plans by insurgent and extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the Sallah celebrations between today, September 12 and tomorrow, 13, 2016. They noted that Edo State was among the states being earmarked for the attacks by the extremist elements.
Part of the statement read: “The public would recall that similar threats were issued during the May Labour Day and Democracy Day celebrations as well as the Ed-el-Fitr holidays in July, 2016. However, the security agencies were able to decisively disrupt and thwart the insurgents’ plan.
“In the same vein, while election is important, the security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted, and we will continue to remain vigilant and ensure consolidation of the successes gained in the current counter-insurgency fight.
“It is in regard of these that we are appealing to INEC which has the legal duty to regulate elections in the country and consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo State in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorist threats.”
Though THISDAY gathered that the postponement of the poll was instigated by the IG, many Nigerians believe that the reasons given by the two security chiefs were one of the biggest lies they would tell this year especially against the backdrop of the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had predicted almost a month ago that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal and state government were making frantic efforts to postpone the election to enable them perfect their hidden agenda for the election.
To them, the actions of the two security chiefs amounted to gross incompetence, which should have led to their dismissal or resignation were Nigeria a serious country, where things are done properly.
Otherwise, could they justify a situation where just four days to the postponement of the election, the police IG had told the world that he would meet with the two leading governorship candidates in the state, Godwin Obaseki of the APC and Ize-Iyamu of the PDP, INEC officials, election observers and candidates of the other political parties in the election to adopt strategic measures aimed at ensuring free and fair polls?
In a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Awunah, Idris said he was committed to ensuring that the election was conducted in accordance to the Electoral Law and in the atmosphere of peace of peace and security.
To bring this to fruition, he said the Force had deployed a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, an Assistant Inspector General of Police and three Commissioners of Police, to coordinate the security operations, supervise the deployment of security personnel and facilitate the electoral process throughout the state.
“In order to ensure safety of life and property before, during and after the election, we are deploying additional 25,000 police personnel, comprising the Police Mobile Force (PMF) the Counter Terrorism Units (CTU), the anti-bomb squad, the marine police, conventional policemen, the armament units, personnel from force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and the Sniffer Dog Section.
“In addition, the Police Aerial Surveillance Helicopters and Gun Boats, 10 additional armoured personnel carriers and 5,000 patrol vehicles will be deployed, to cover all the polling units across the state,” he said.
Further to this, he said, “All police personnel and other complementing sister security agencies are under strict instructions to be professionally polite and civil but firm in the discharge of their statutory duties. They are to provide adequate security for the electorate, INEC officials, electoral materials, election observers and all stakeholders throughout the period of the election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, political parties and their leaders, traditional rulers, parents are advised to warn and prevail on their members, supporters, subjects, wards to be law-abiding and not allow themselves to be used as canon fodders to cause disturbance of the peace or the electoral process.”
To think that the 25,000 deployed police officers were to complement the thousands of regular police officers, men of the DSS and the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCDSC) on the ground in the state and yet, Idris suggested a postponement of the election on the grounds that he could not guaranty peace, is to say the least, the height of incompetence and lack of capacity.
Moreover, long before the day of the botched election, soldiers from the 4 Mechanised Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Benin-City had embarked on several demonstrations to ward off potential trouble makers in the state with a stern warning that they would deal decisively with them should they breach the peace in the state during the poll.
For the same IG to mastermind the postponement of the poll he was believed to have laboured so hard to provide logistics for was simply unbelievable to many. To many observers, therefore, the mere fact that the police and other agencies could not guarantee security in a small and peaceful state like Edo for 24 hours with all the logistics put in place is both sad and sickening, and goes a long way to reveal the trauma that Nigerians face on daily basis with a disoriented security architecture.
The same reservation was expressed by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, who in his reaction to the postponement of the election, said “The questions Nigerians must ask the APC-led federal government are: what security threat can overcome over 50,000 security personnel in an election holding in just one out of the 36 states in Nigeria? If election must be postponed in just one state because of security threat, what will then happen in 2019, when elections will be conducted in the entire country?
“Another question is: were they unaware of the security challenge when President Muhammadu Buhari went to Edo State to campaign for the APC yesterday? No doubt, this is a game being played by the APC because it has become so imminent that the party cannot win the election if it is held on Saturday as scheduled. The postponement is obviously meant to give room for the APC to perfect a new rigging strategy and lovers of democracy in Nigeria should begin to see how the APC aims at perpetuating itself in power beyond 2019 even now that the party has been rejected by Nigerians.”
There is, therefore, no debating the fact that the new IG is wont to act on impulse, at the risk of thorough thought process on mild issues let alone one as serious as an election. Isn’t it the same Idris, who had gone public to embarrass his predecessor over alleged theft of cars without properly checking the inventory, only to discover his alarm was false?
The same police under Idris now see the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners as pain the butt of the government when indeed they provided the grounds for the victory of the new government by constantly harassing the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Sadly, the postponement of the Edo election was advised over alleged terror threat, where then is intelligence and pro-active policing, when already you have an intelligence of planned attacks? Have the police not subtly conceded superiority to these anti-social elements if in spite of a rich intelligence at their disposal, they still could not contain the threat supposedly posed by these elements in one state of the federation, moreso a state as small as Edo?
There is no doubting the fact that security will be some huge luxury under Idris’ leadership of the police. Nigerians must therefore buckle up and brace up to the challenge. Not only has he shown to be incapable of providing security, he does not seem to have the capacity to think through ingenious ideas capable of advancing an effective policing of the nation. He clearly does not understand what it takes to lead a cracking police force much less, effectively deploy them for result. Unfortunately, Nigerians might have to deal with this human misfortune for a much longer time.
There is no doubting the fact that security will be some huge luxury under Idris’ leadership of the police. Nigerians must therefore buckle up and brace up to the challenge. Not only has he shown to be incapable of providing security, he does not seem to have the capacity to think through ingenious ideas capable of advancing an effective policing of the nation. He clearly does not understand what it takes to lead a cracking police force much less, effectively deploy them for result. Unfortunately, Nigerians might have to deal with this human misfortune for a much longer time