The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has accused politicians and other prominent personalities of being behind the recent attacks on the officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission in different parts of the country.
The IG, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General, Department of Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, stated this on Friday when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating attacks on INEC assets across the country.
Similarly, the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, warned that the continued attacks on assets belonging to the electoral umpire could frustrate the 2023 general elections.
Baba noted that the Nigeria Police Force, being the lead agency in internal security and elections generally, was always at the receiving end, stating, “Whatever happens, it is the duty of the police to protect here and there.
“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 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.”
According to the police boss, there is also the issue of failed and desperate politicians who are bent on stopping INEC from conducting the elections.
“The failed politicians are those who could not come back through any political party, and as far as they are concerned, let everything spoil, let everything scatter. They are using that opportunity to sponsor illiterate followers of the parties and hoodlums to make sure that this general election does not hold and should not be successful,” Baba added.