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Saturday, 23 February 2019

Buhari's Command To Stop Thugs At Election Is In Order: Says Security Experts

Maj Gen. Sam Momah (Rtd)
In the wee hours of Saturday 16th February 2019, the supposed day for the Presidential election, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the cancellation of the election calendar and offered a fresh one. The difference in the time frame for the first election, being just a week.

But the postponement itself had successfully raised issues. As such, there were apprehension here and there that perhaps there may be violence as the days draws closer to the rescheduled election day or on the said election day itself.

We spoke to some security experts on such awakened fears of violence and what the federal government could do or prepare for.

The Pioneer Commandant of the Nigerian War College and two term Minister of Science and Technology, General Sam Momah is of the opinion that there would be no violence today being the election day. The one week postponement he said put Nigeria on cross road with the polity raising high tension. The electoral process he added will henceforth be faultless with high security. He called on the government to also henceforth be careful of whatever actions is taken with respect to todays polls. The onus rest on the government right now to ensure that the election is free and fair and devoid of violence all over the country which may mar it. The mistakes that has been made in the past whereby a frosty relationship existed between the executive and the legislature will be corrected. The government should also lessen the tension in the polity in today's post election. INEC must ensure that all forms of tension is diffused by making sure that no more election postponements. INEC should do things professionally so that the organisation can regain its credibility. I think the President's directive about the ballot box snatching was mis-interpreted by people because the law as it is, adequately takes care of punishment for anyone who takes part in the snatching of ballot boxes."

Amb. Roy Okhidievbie
According to Ambassador Roy Oamien Okhidievbie an ex Army Officer and CEO of August Security Limited, "the brouhaha of the election postponement from last Saturday to this one has simmered down. The blame throwing, name calling, hate speeches, and the wanton displays of democratic gymnastics has taken its toll. Behind and under all of these, issues arose from plans prepared. Grave security pluses and minuses came to fore and active actors in our political and security spaces could rightly tell where the pendulum would have swung to.

"INEC, the International Observers, the political parties and the party candidates, must have gone through what is statutory, what was prepared for and what would have gone amiss. Politicians were shocked to discover that their teams where either not prepared, or compromised. And certain trusted persons were exposed by this postponement.

The Security Agencies must have been plagued and bombarded with intel, providing and proving great lacuna existed in what they thought was a water tight security architecture. I saw videos and footages of planned but foiled infractions like fake electoral materials? Abducted electoral materials and stranded materials arriving at a wrong designated destination. I saw NYSC youths stranded and saddled with the responsibility of their own welfare and security. I saw security officers without any care or concerns about their motivations nor payments for their agreed daily stipend.

So my recommendations would be that the international observers must separate junk media from reality and plan adequately to position themselves for first hand information. The political parties must understand that no one can be trusted with sustaining the integrity of their party. They should immediately conform to the rules of engagement for this election. The candidates must speak to themselves rather than anyone else. They must embrace the sad obvious that any infractions on this electoral process traced to them would incur international wrath up to, and not excluding, visa restrictions to them and families? Medical travel bars? Confiscation of assets abroad, and so on. Personnel of security agencies must adhere to rules of engagement and international best practice in the discharge of their roles, while Nigerians as a whole, at this point, should be simply be of utmost conformity. It is my prayer that we have a peaceful, free and fair elections on Saturday as stated in the postponed register."

Commodore Ayuba (Rtd)
On his part, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba Rtd points out that, electoral violence has historically been a common occurrence in Nigeria's chequered political history. "However, a lot of concerted efforts has been geared towards voter education and re-inforcement of civil society capacity, to mitigate causes of it. The security sector has equally been reforming itself in line with global best practises."

As to whether there will be violence today Saturday 23rd February 2019 because of the rescheduled elections, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba said that, "I'll rather say by way of advocacy advise that trouble makers and disgruntled elements should have a change of heart as the security services are well equipped to deal decisively with offenders. Nigeria has reached another stage in its fledging democracy and with 20 years into this republic, we should show the world that we have come of age. Personally, I have no where to run to and therefore we must salvage this nation together."

Capt. Mohammed (Rtd)
The President is right with the order to checkmate the issue of thuggery and ballot box snatching in this 2019 election with the use of the military," says Retired Army Captain Ali A. Mohammed. "If anyone was planning to disrupt the election in anyway or planning to snatch a ballot box, at least the president's order gave the immediate guideline of what will happen to such a person. The Presidential order involved both the law enforcement officers and the military and the President did not say that people should be shot at but implied that such people who snatched ballot boxes, would be ruthlessly dealt with. But even if the president said that snatchers of ballot boxes should be shot at, it is still in accordance with the law. You know doing things unlawfully or taking things by force is the literally meaning of thuggery. If you compare that interpretation with what an armed robber does, is it not the same thing? If an armed robber is caught, what happens to the armed robber, or what are you expected to do? Are you going to wait for the armed robber to kill you? Those thugs who go out to carry ballot boxes go armed! And they disrupt the peace of the public and sometimes even kill people in process of snatching the boxes and getting away."

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