Nigerian military, Nigeria Police and the country secret service, the Department of State Services, DSS, on Thursday re-assured Nigerians electorate of their commitments to provide a conducive atmosphere for peaceful general elections on Saturday, February 25 and March 11, 2023.
They reaffirmed their ability to guarantee security at a joint security press conference in Abuja that was addresses by the Director of Defence Information, DDI, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, the Force Public Relations Officer Olumuyiwa Adejobi and DSS Public Relations Officer Peter Afunanya, Ph.D,
They said that the security agencies had completed arrangements to provide security in all polling booths and ensure hitch-free elections.
Adejobi said that state governments-owned security apparatus and vigilantes were not part of the arrangements for the elections security.
He said that personnel of state governments owned security agencies were not taking part in the arrangements, and any of them found loitering around would be arrested.
According to the Police spokesperson, 6 of persons and vehicles would be restricted as from 12 pm on Friday, February 24 to 6 pm on Saturday February 25, 2023.
He said that only accredited journalists by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and persons on essential services i.e. Telecommunication staff members on duty, Doctors on calls, etc, would be allowed to access the roads.
He advised electorates whose polling booths are located far from their homes to get closer to their unit location on Friday.
Adejobi said that VIP are not permitted to go to the polling booth with their orderly .
According to the Police only an Aide -in -Camp (ADC) would be allowed to accompany the state governor into a polling centre.
He emphasised that any security personnel who violated the directive and accompanied a VIP to polling centre would be arrested.
The Police also said that the ban on the use of siren on unauthorized vehicles is still in force.
Adejobi said the security agencies are ready to protect democracy and ensure hitch free security and fair and creditable elections.
He advised electorates without PVC to stay off the streets and polling centres. Adejobi also advised the media to be objective and avoid fake news.
Spokesperson of the Department of State Services ,DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya said that the agency had pledged to be neutral and professional.
DSS also pledged good conduct of its personnel to the democratic process.
“It will continue to discharge its mandate of disseminating timely, actionable, and proactive intelligence necessary for tactical, operational, and strategic decisions even beyond the elections.”
Also, it will partner other sister security and law enforcement agencies; all levels and arms of Government and indeed all stakeholders particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and relevant Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations to ensure a hitch free electoral exercise.
The Department enjoined residents to cast their votes without any form of violence and also maintain the peace after that.
DSS said that in pursuit of a desired environment for the elections, it engaged in proactive and intelligence-led operations across the States. For instance, on 22nd February 2023, the service conducted a legally backed search operation on a property along Airport Road, Nasarawa LGA, Kano State.
“During the operation, it recovered dangerous weapons including a gun, daggers, swords, jack-knives from the said building.
He said that “the accusation that the Service intimidated a particular political party in that State is untrue; otherwise, how come those weapons were found there? Are those objects of violence campaign materials?
“Whether in Kano or elsewhere, the DSS has provided equal opportunities for all political parties to engage in their lawful activities. We can say this without any form of contradictions or equivocations,” he said.
On his part, Brigadier General Gusau recalled that early this week the Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor has met with Service Chiefs and other heads of other security agencies in Abuja as part of preparations ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
“Similarly, the National Security Council met yesterday with a charge to the AFN and other security agencies to ensure peaceful conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
“In both meetings, the CDS has assured the nation that we are set for the conduct of a hitch-free elections in the country.
He further said that the AFN was very prepared to support the Nigerian Police and other government agencies responsible for conducting elections.
The CDS had sent out strong messages that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is committed to total collaboration with other security agencies to ensure this election is successful. In the word of CDS “the elections will be conducted and everyone will have the liberty to exercise his franchise”.
Brigadier General Gusau said “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is committed to strong and virile constitutional democracy. We are very loyal to the Nigerian state and are ready to depend democracy at all costs.“
During the election periods, all our normal operations and duties will continue simultaneously across the country.
OP SAFE CONDUCT has been activated to provide guidance to AFN during elections.
The Defence Headquarters has established a monitoring team in conjunction with other security agencies that will oversee the process in FCT and all the 6 geo political zones in the country. Similarly, operations centres have been established in FCT and 36 states capitals of the federation to serve as Quick Response Centres for all distress calls in the event of any breach of peace during the election period. he said.