The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has directed police commissioners in the 36 states to dismantle campaign bottlenecks put in place by governors to frustrate their opponents.
This is even as the IGP and the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, vowed to arrest and prosecute touts obstructing campaigns by opposition political parties and politicians indulging in vote-buying during the 2023 poll.
The IGP specifically noted that all commissioners of police must provide security for political parties embarking on electioneering in all the nook and cranny of any state.
Speaking at the 2022 political parties’ summit organised by the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), yesterday in Abuja, he said any commissioner who fails to carry out his responsibility within the ambit of the law and decide to dance to the tunes of governors would be removed.
Represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, he said: “We have been receiving a lot of complains from political parties. It is unfortunate of what is happening this period. All the political parties are complaining. It is not only APC or PDP or Labour Party or APGA. Unfortunately, some of our governors as stated by the IG during a meeting with the political parties that they are not helping matters.
“They have not laid a solid foundation, give other political parties access to campaign programmes. Some try to manipulate the campaign.
“Some even sponsor touts to pursue the opposition, remove their billboards and posters and destroy their offices.
“Based on this, the Inspector General of Police, has categorically directed all the commissioners of police that on no account should any serving or sitting governor stop other political parties from conducting their campaigns in all the nook and cranny of the state.
“This instruction was very clear both in writing and verbal. We have told all the commissioners of police. When it happens, the commissioners of police have been directed to arrest all the hoodlums no matter where they belong and whoever is sponsoring them we will arrest them and charge them to court.
“So, please, be rest assured that all political parties are free to go about your lawful businesses. You are free to go to any village conduct your campaign freely and we are going to give you enough security. We are encouraging all the aspirants that once you are threatened and you have no access to go round meet the commissioner of police in charge of that state. They have been directed and warned to provide security for all the aspirants. No matter where they are going, they will attach security.”
EFCC chairman, who was represented by the Chief Superintendent in the Commission, Adukwu Michael, noted that the anti-graft agency had embarked on voters’ education and was working to ensure politicians do not spend beyond the stipulated amount.
“The Commission focus in election management is discouraging the use of money to influence the outcome of election.
“Electoral spending by politicians often lead to voter inducement and vote buying. Parties often induce vote with money because they lack proper and realistic policies to convince the electorate to vote them into power. Whenever one is induced to sell his vote, he automatic loses moral ground to challenge corrupt tendencies of those elected…
“We are working with INEC to determine and to enforce provisions of the Electoral Act as it relates to limit of campaign spending by different categories of office seekers. This is an intelligent driven exercise.”
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, said political parties and their candidates must adhere to democratic norms and “collectively intervene to achieve the kind of credible elections that will further deepen democracy.”
The keynote speaker, Senator Pius Anyim, argued that political parties must adhere to the principles of social justice as a means of preventing crisis.
“The rumblings in the PDP and the APC are surely due to perceived social injustice in the management of the affairs of the parties,” he argued.
According to him, the pain of the G-5 governors in the PDP is simply the sidelining of a section of the country in the sharing of party structures.
He, however, called on IPAC to step forward in playing a role to stabilise the democratic environment by ensuring that parties take their rightful position as the bedrock of democracy in Nigeria.