The Federal Government has raised a fresh alarm on moves by ‘panicky’ politicians, individuals and groups to truncate the conduct of the general elections, which begin on the 16th of next month.The current administration warned that the development could cause crisis in the land, just as it added that these unscrupulous elements were already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists, to perpetrate their nefarious acts in a number of states across the federation.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had last week raised similar fears that the opposition was planning to disrupt the polls.The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), while addressing reporters yesterday in Abuja at the end of an emergency meeting with the 36 governors, assured Nigerians that his office and all security agencies were poised to cooperate with the state chief executives to deliver on their constitutional mandate of protecting lives and properties before, during and after the elections.
Monguno explained that the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) he co-chairs with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had been meeting periodically to safeguard the electorate during the exercise.
According to him, the committee was putting finishing touches to its activities to ensure peace in the country.He said: “Reports reaching me have revealed that some individuals that are uncertain of their fate in the elections are plotting to precipitate widespread violence aimed at scuttling the conduct of the polls.
“I will refrain from being specific on some of the plots that have been uncovered, though the security agencies will spare no efforts in dealing appropriately with any acts that could destabilise the nation and paint us collectively in a bad light among the comity of states.
“Your excellencies, you are more aware than I am that no individual or group is greater or more important than Nigeria. Accordingly, no individual’s or group’s ambition is worth the life of any Nigerian or our national cohesion.” The NSA maintained that government was doing all within its powers to create a peaceful environment for the elections.
He reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to democratic norms, citing his address to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2017 where the Nigerian leader averred: “Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken.”
Monguno said the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, had been directed to arrest anyone bearing firearms illegally or engaging in acts of violence to ruffle the sanctity of the nation.
Meanwhile, INEC is to quarantine uncollected permanent voter cards (PVCs) from February 8 till the end of the polls.The commission’s chair, Prof. Yakubu, dropped the hint at a national youth summit on the exercise in Abuja, adding that February 8 was deadline for the collection of the facilities.
The uncollected cards, according to him, would be quarantined until after the elections to avoid access to them. Investigations reveal that about five million PVCs were yet to be collected 16 days to the first round of the elections.Besides, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has expressed concerns over the proliferation of arms ahead of the polls.
Its chairman and leader of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, equally decried the abductions in parts of the country. He expressed their concerns to newsmen in Abuja after a meeting with the NSA.Also yesterday, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) has urged government to control the circulation and possession of illicit firearms and ammunition, especially automatic rifles nationwide. It also sought strengthening of cross-border cooperation with the security forces of neighbouring countries. These were part of the recommendations of its monthly seminar series held in Ibadan, Oyo State.