The Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Armed Forces said that they have arrested 1,119 persons for various electoral offences during the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
The figure was disclosed yesterday by Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Frank Mba during a joint briefing by spokespersons of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police on the just concluded elections and supplementary elections on 23 March 2019 at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
In a breakdown, he said 256 persons were arrested in Akwa Ibom,117 arrested in Imo while 109 were arrested in Kaduna. Others were arrested from other states. He added that the number of arrests is not cast on an iron stone as the figure may shrink or increase as the investigations proceed.
Commenting on alleged misconduct of security personnel during the polls, he said the acts were carried out by impostors of both military and police as depicted in the arrest of persons wearing fake uniforms.
“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,” he said.
He however noted that it is too early and too premature to apportion blames on 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,” he said.
ACP Mba noted that though the impostors were arrested, the security operatives are working assiduously to ensure that all those involved in acts capable of disrupting the polls are apprehended and made to face the law.
He further reaffirmed that the Army has constituted a committee to investigate allegations of misconduct by its personnel and in that direction, any personnel found culpable will be made to receive punitive measures in line with the extant laws of the land.
“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. In the elections, military services were undoubtedly requested by the INEC.
While we appreciate the fact that some of these issues may be as a result of the overzealousness of some personnel, it is instructive to note that some of these incidents were instances of impersonation by political thugs clad in military and police uniforms,” he said.
Speaking further he said, “Prior to the elections there were intelligence reports of some politicians clandestinely procuring uniforms of security agencies for political thugs for the purpose of impersonating security personnel during the elections. This information was later corroborated with the arrest of several fake soldiers and fake policemen during the last elections. Similarly, in Imo State, the military in a joint operation with the police arrested over 100 suspected political thugs who are now with the police undergoing investigation. The police with the support of the Nigerian military also arrested several political thugs and electoral offenders with several arms and ammunitions recovered. It is imperative to state that, not all of these impostors were apprehended by security agencies. Therefore, the Nigeria police, the military and other security agencies are working assiduously to fish out these criminal elements and bring them to book.”