By Alex Enumah in Abuja
A former Inspector General of Police (Rtd) and Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Alhaji Musiliu Smith, has said that if the forthcoming general election must be adjudged free, fair, credible and widely accepted then personnel of the Nigerian Police Force who were in the forefront of providing security must display a high level of professionalism.
Smith maintained that adequate security was crucial in delivering a free and fair election and as such said police personnel and other security agents deployed to guarantee peace and security must prove themselves capable of delivering on their task.
The former IG, who was speaking at a security summit in Abuja organised by the PSC in conjunction with the Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP), warned that the commission would not hesitate to deal with any police personnel involved in electoral malpractices.
“No doubt we cannot expect to have a successful 2019 election where professionalism particularly on the part of the men of the Nigeria Police Force is not ensured and enhanced through a framework that will promote impressive performance and conduct.
“During the past general elections in Nigeria whenever things do not go so well, police conduct is often seen even if erroneously as being the reason for the flawed elections. However, when elections are adjudged as free and fair, the police are hailed as being professional and doing a great job,” he said.
Smith said in realisation of the crucial role the police play in guaranteeing a successful election, the Police Service Commission, had put in place several actions and activities aimed at ensuring that the police provide security in a manner that will enhance and strengthen the country’s democracy.
According to him, the commissioners of the Police Service Commission representing the geo-political zones and vital interests in the last couple of weeks had been going around the country meeting with men and women of the Nigeria Police Force on how to professionally secure the forthcoming elections.
The former IG said the PSC in addition was creating awareness amongst the electorate and Nigerians generally on what the role of police officers during the elections should be, adding that the commission would deploy monitors across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in addition to the opening of dedicated telephone hot lines to enable citizens make prompt reports in the event they observed any misconduct by any police officer.
“The police Service Commission will in turn ensure that such reports are processed and sanctions meted out to any erring officer if the alleged act is proven.”
In his remarks, Deputy Team Leader, Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP), Idris Bawa, said the summit was timely owing to the importance of the 2019 elections to the sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy. He disclosed that his organisation working with the PSC and the Police Force was doing everything possible to prepare the police adequately for the elections. “We have a deployment plan that has been developed; we have done threat assessment across the whole state working with the Nigerian police with other NGOs. All those flash points that have been identified, we are making deployment to see how they can be checkmate,” he said.
All paramilitary organisations in the country were in attendance at the security summit.