IG Lists Potential Threats to 2019 Elections

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Ibrahim Idris

• INEC warns incumbents against use of state resources to finance election

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, has listed the increasing rate of vote buying, rigging plans by political parties, act of thuggery, flash points of electoral violence, ballot box snatching, small arms/light weapons and militant groups as potential threats to the 2019 elections.

He also revealed that undercover security operatives would infiltrate the ranks and file of the political parties, and their associates, to frustrate the emerging menace.

The IG disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ roundtable with the theme ‘Political Corruption and Other Emerging Issues for the 2019 Elections’, organised by a coalition of election monitors, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) in partnership with Christian Voice to the People (V2P) and Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I).

The police boss who was represented by the Commissioner of Police, Federal Operatives, Force Headquarters, Keneth Ebrisem, however assured that in order to checkmate the activities of thugs, profiling of their leaders, sponsors, sympathisers and their locations is on-going.

According to him, “Potential threats, security concerns and emerging trends of 2019 elections include vote buying, militant groups, rigging, acts of thuggery/hooliganism, flash points of electoral violence, ballot box snatching and small arms/light weapons are serious concerns to us.

“In the case of vote buying, undercover operatives will infiltrate the ranks and file of the political parties, their associates, to frustrate the emerging menace. The foot soldiers are been closely monitored with the aim of isolating and crippling their activities before, during and after the election.

“As it affects flash points and ballot box snatching, a comprehensive study of all previous elections has been conducted to nip this in the bud. Also threat analysis carried out will ensure that tactical intelligence response and technical unit personnel will be deployed to all the six geopolitical zones and state commands earlier before the commencement of the elections.

“This is anchored on the establishment of standards procedure and security arrangement for a search, free and fair 2019 general election.”

Idris also revealed that mopping up of small and light weapons and explosives including offensive weapons have commenced long ago to secure a conducive space for the elections.

On her part, the Executive Director of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, expressed concern about the developments around the 2019 elections, adding that the meeting should seek input from experts on how to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

Afolabi noted that such elections are simply for the highest bidder or the candidate with the deepest pocket without regard to competence or report.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned the incumbent governments — both at the federal and state levels against the use of state administrative resources to fund campaigns.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Election and Party Monitoring Committee, Prof. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine, said the 2019 elections represent a watershed in Nigeria’s electoral history and a lot of resources are expected to be deployed in the competition for power, hence, the need for political parties to comply with the campaign financial laws and regulations.

Okoosi-Simbine who was represented by INEC Director of Legal Services, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Babalola, stressed the need for greater enforcement of campaign finance laws, increased awareness, knowledge and capacity building on campaign finance laws and regulations, increased compliance with the laws by political parties and candidates in order to enhance the credibility of 2019 elections.

She said the commission has reviewed and redesigned the campaign finance tracking and reporting forms that would be used by political parties, candidates and monitors, essentially splitting the forms to make them less widely and cumbersome to complete.

She said, “Another interesting area of campaign finance spending to watch out for is the use of state administrative resources by incumbents, particularly now that the campaigns have kicked off.

“Section 100 (2) of the Electoral Act provides that state apparatus shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.”

On his part, a security expert and a Professor from the University of Ibadan, Prof. Albert Olawale, warned that the present structure of Nigeria requires that the country needs to be careful going into 2019 elections.

He said that Nigeria is presently conflict-genic adding that if care is not taken the 2019 elections might be the trigger.