Usman Baba, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), has claimed that recent assaults on INEC officers across the nation are the result of collusion between politicians and other well-known individuals.
The IG made this claim on Friday when he testified before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee looking into attacks on INEC assets nationwide.
The IG was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General, Department of Operations, Dandaura Mustapha.
Similar to this, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, issued a warning that the general elections scheduled for 2023 may be derailed by the ongoing attacks on the electoral umpire’s property.
According to Baba, “Whatever happens, it is the duty of the police to protect here and there.” He also pointed out that the Nigeria Police Force, as the primary agency in charge of internal security and elections in general, was constantly on the receiving end.
“The campaigns commenced and what we realised initially was inter and intra-party disputes. We realised that members of political parties were destroying billboards, posters and campaign offices in some parts of the states. We quickly alerted the commissioners of police in charge of the commands and gave them a clear directive that it is the right of every political party to go to all the nooks and crannies of society and campaign. It is a constitutional right, so on no account does a state governor or any state actor should prevent political parties from moving about to do their campaigns.
“We now come to the immediate attacks on INEC facilities. Of recent, the ones that took place in Osun and Ogun, then last week in Ebonyi, Imo and Enugu; it is a well known fact that in the South-East geopolitical zone, we have issues of secessionists – the IPOB and ESN. These groups are bent on stopping elections from taking place in the South-East. They have been attacking our personnel; they have been retrieving arms from members of the security agencies, not only the police but the military and other paramilitary organisations that are there. They have been doing it, especially now that the embargo on campaigns has been lifted.
“The election is approaching very fast and they are putting much pressure to see that this election does not hold in the South-East geopolitical zone.
“In the South-West, we equally have the pro-Yoruba secessionists that are equally bent on seceding and not allowing the election to take place in their areas, hence the attack on INEC in Osun and Ogun of recent. Those ones are also sponsored by politicians and other stakeholders.”
His comment comes as unknown gunmen continue to wreak havoc on INEC’s facilities across the nation in the buildup to the 2023 general election.
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