*IG Warns political actors to play by rules ahead 2023
*Arase urges media to give balance report on next year’s polls
Kingsley Nwezeh and Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The military high command, weekend, declared that the armed forces were prepared to end oil theft in the Niger Delta region, saying security forces remained determined to end insurgency, armed banditry and ready to pave the way for a free, fair and secure 2023 Polls.
Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, also said the Nigeria Police, the military and other security forces were fully prepared to ensure a free, fair, credible and acceptable polls in 2023.
At the same time, a former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, has cautioned the media on balanced reportage as the nation looked forward to its forthcoming general election.
Speaking at the Third Quarter Route March for Nigerian Navy Personnel in Abuja, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said the military was determined to ensure that oil theft and pipeline vandalism were contained.
He said the military, following the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, was committed to end oil theft and ensure that crude oil production was ramped up.
“I want to assure the general public that the Nigerian military will abide by our constitution responsibilities and maintain our territorial integrity from any kind of threat.
“In line with the president’s directive, we are going to bring cases of pipeline vandalism to an end. This is a mandate that we intend to achieve,” he said.
He assured that the Nigerian Navy will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the entire maritime domain is brought to some level of safety and security before the end of the administration. We are going to ensure that oil production is ramped up,” he said.
On the 2023 polls, Gambo, who was represented by Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, said the Nigerian Navy was prepared to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Police, when called upon to do so in order to ensure that Nigerians voted without any hindrance.
On the route march organised for naval personnel, he said the exercise was designed to ensure mental and physical fitness of personnel in the drive to end insurgency and contribute meaningfully to a successful general election in 2023.
But Baba, while assuring that the election would hold as scheduled, said contrary to speculations in some quarters that the forthcoming polls might not hold in some parts of the country due to security concerns, the election would hold nationwide as scheduled by the INEC.
The IG, who spoke in Abuja, warned political actors to play by the rules of the game and to stop overheating the system, saying the era of ballot box snatching was gone for good in the country, based on the various innovations introduced into the system by INEC.
The IG, who spoke through the Force Public Relations Officer and Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Olumuyiwa Adejobi, on the conference and retreat for senior police officers taking place in Owerri, Imo State, declared that the Nigeria Police and other security forces were fully prepared to ensure “free, fair, credible and acceptable polls come 2023”.
He said the Owerri retreat was put in place to map out strategies for the smooth conduct of the polls and would be attended by the senior police officers from the ranks of commissioner of police, the presidential candidates of all the registered political parties and personnel from other security forces.
“We are assuring Nigerians and the international community that the 2023 general election will hold as planned by the Independent National Electoral Commission in all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
“The country is enjoying relative peace now and we are going to sustain this, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari has promised times without numbers to give the nation a peaceful free and fair elections, come 2023.
“The president has been keeping to his words by encouraging us and the security forces towards achieving this, we will have no excuse to fail the nation. Nigerians too have been helping the police and other security agencies with credible information in their localities.
“So, there is no cause for concern about the general election. We are working hard to make the polls a huge success likewise the INEC is doing the same thing. If you snatch ballot papers or boxes from one location to another location, you are only wasting your time, because with the new arrangements being put in place by INEC, such electoral materials will not be valid in that location you are taking them to. You will be caught by security agents and be made to face the law.
“Arrangements are in top gear to secure the electorate, electoral officials and citizens, 2023 elections will be the best in the annals of our dear country, there is no security threat now and we don’t envisage any in future,” he assured.
The police boss explained that the third edition of the conference and retreat for senior police officers organised by Matchmakers Consult International in partnership with the Imo State government was designed to give the nation credible election.
“This edition, with the theme ‘The Imperative of a Nigeria Police Strategic Plan for Peaceful Elections’, is part of the IGP’s continuing effort to adequately prepare officers and men of the force to play a more effective and efficient role in the management of security during the general elections was designed on the assumption of office as the 21st indigenous police chief to bequeath the nation with a policing system that is citizen-centred, technology-based, and whose officers protect with courage and serve with compassion.
“This has led to vital collaborations, riding on the federal government’s police reform agenda through the presidential police reform and transformation office with various governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Meanwhile, Arase, who was the chairman at the award ceremony of Corporate Excellence award to the National Examination Council (NECO) and Integrity Award on the registrar, Prof. Ibrahim Wushishi, said only balanced reportage could take journalism to new heights and heal a nation already polarised.
During the award, which was organised by the Verbatim News Network Limited, Arase further advised politicians to practice tolerance and good sportsmanship if they won or lose.
“For the media, your reportage should be balanced, take journalism to a new heights of investigation and make sure your facts are properly spelt out.
“For the political gladiators, I want to tell them to practice tolerance and if they lose, there are more elections to come and for that will win, I want them to extend their hands of fellowship to those, who have lost,” he said.
On his part, Wushishi appreciated the organisation for the award, stressing that the institution would continue to ensure credibility and uphold its mandates.
“This award is very significant because it means that we are delivering on the mandates of the council.
“Today, NECO is in the news for good, because that institution is key to Nigeria’s development, due to its status of being the largest indigenous examination body in the country and in Africa.
“So, every family in Nigeria has a stake in that institution and we have done so much to see that things are done within the framework that established the institution,” he said.