The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has said there is no rift between the military and the police over the conduct of the general elections.
Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, Acting Director of Defence Information, made this known at a joint press conference with spokesmen of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Nigerian Navy (NN) and the Police on the previous elections and tomorrow’s supplementary polls in some states.
He said the clarifications had become necessary, considering the public concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the conduct of the elections in Rivers State.
According to the DHQ, the misgivings over the roles of the military alongside that of the police in Rivers State is receiving attention.
Police spokesman Frank Mba, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), at the conference, said 1,119 persons were arrested across the country during the national and state elections.
According to him, security agencies arrested 323 persons for elections-related offences during the presidential elections; 796 were arrested during the gubernatorial elections.
Akwa Ibom State tops the list with 256 persons, trailed by Imo with 117 and Kaduna 109.
Mba said that ongoing investigation could lead to more arrests.
“The briefing is necessitated by the need to bring the general public up-to-date on our activities regarding the just concluded elections, and more importantly, to shed more light on certain security challenges witnessed during the elections, before the supplementary elections coming up on 23 March 2019.
“There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police is the lead security agency tasked with the provision of security at the polls while the military is to support the Police and other security agencies by providing security at the outer cordons, including check points and other flash points when called upon as provided in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“We are, however, equally aware of some of the unfortunate security challenges witnessed during the elections which have generated public outcry and condemnation. The alleged involvement of some security agents in some of these unfortunate incidents is of serious concern to the military and police high commands.
“We assure the general public that investigation is ongoing on security personnel who might have conducted themselves inappropriately during the last elections and appropriate sanctions will be meted out to those found culpable.
“However, it may be too early and too premature to apportion blames and out-right indict anyone or group before exhaustive investigations are concluded.
“Particularly, we want to single out the alleged encroachment of INEC collation centre in Rivers State reportedly by some soldiers. This is considerably a very serious matter and of concern to the military as well as the police top hierarchy.
“Consequently, the military and the police high commands have ordered a thorough investigation of this incident and other isolated cases. Already, several of the video footages that are in circulation on social and online media platforms have been compiled to assist in the investigations.
“In the interest of the general public, we want to seize this opportunity to assure that the military and the police are not at loggerheads as may have been erroneously portrayed. The two security agencies are working in synergy to guarantee peaceful and secure environment for all law-abiding Nigerians to exercise their civic right of voting.
“In keeping to this mandate, we want to reiterate our joint commitment to the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming supplementary elections scheduled for 23 March 2019.”