The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, rebuffed entreaties to postpone next month’s round of elections, saying it was financially and mentally set for the polls.
The commission, nevertheless, affirmed that the go-ahead for elections in the troubled Northeast would be given by security agencies.
Also yesterday, the Inspector General of Police, Sulieman Abba, vowed to deal with errant politicians who heat up the polity through negative utterances, saying he would show to them that no one could be above the law.
The assertions at a workshop for the training of security agencies ahead of the general elections came as INEC said the conduct of election in the troubled Northeast would be determined by the counsel of security agencies.
Chairman, INEC Electoral Training Institute, Dr Ishmaeal Igbani, who spoke on behalf of the commission in giving the readiness of the commission for the polls said the commission was comfortable with the fund it has at its disposal at the moment.
He said: “Anytime there is election in Nigeria, there is always some form of tension. I have been around for a while and I don’t think it is something new. I don’t think people should be afraid. But it is also essential that we get ready just in case.”
Lagos pastor, Tunde Bakare had last Sunday called for the postponement of the elections for the purpose of allowing tension among political gladiators to ebb.
According to him, “it is also very important that we have peaceful elections, it is also important that voters come out to vote without fear. It is also important that the personnel who will work for us and the environment itself is peaceful and for it to be peaceful, it is important for the security agencies to be alert and ensure that they do what they are supposed to do.”
He said a minimum of 50 personnel were being trained, adding: “We call this cascade training. After this training of trainers who will now go to their various security organisations to train others and so forth which will go down the line in that way. More will be trained in a more cheaper way.“
Elections in North-East
Speaking on the possibility of conducting elections in the North-East, he said: “Our work in the commission is to conduct elections; other people have been given that assignment. They are in a better position to answer that. But what I can tell you is that once the coast is clear we will hold elections.
On the alleged paucity of funds by the commission to conduct elections, he said: “We are comfortable with what we have. I am just hearing of that for the first time. Nobody will postpone election. Why will it be postponed?”
Commenting on the prospect of internally displaced persons in the Northeast voting, he said the INEC committee charged with finding a solution to the issue had yet to submit its report.
Police warn politicians
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, speaking through the Commissioner of Police in charge of Election Monitoring, Mohammed Ghanzali, said the police, being the leading security agency for all elections, will enforce the rule of the law.
He said: “If you (political actors) commit any offence, the agencies here will go back and ensure they cascade what they have learnt here today and you will be arrested and dealt with accordingly. So the politicians must play by the rules.”
Referring specifically to politicians planning to cause trouble in the course of the elections, he said: “The only thing is that we are going to deal with anybody that thinks he is above the law. All I am saying is that politicians should obey the law.
“We are to make sure that we secure the area as the leading agency for election. We have nothing to say other than for them to obey the rules of the law. If they don’t obey the rules of law, we will deal with them in accordance with the law.”
Number of policemen to be deployed
On the number of policemen that would be deployed for the 2015 elections, he said: “The population of the area depends on the polling units and the security agencies we have around. The commissioner of police in the state will be the one to deploy. He knows what is on the ground.“
Responding to allegations that the police was partisan, in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he said: “The police can never be partisan, that is why we are here as the lead agency to ensure that we secure the area. If they want the police to be partisan, they would not have been called to ensure the security of the area.
“All those that are voting have the party they want to vote for. So they have sympathy for the parties they want to vote for. We are just there to ensure there is law and order and that every stakeholder plays by the rules.”