24th March, 2015
The success or failure of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections will largely depend on the ability of security agencies to carry out their functions professionally without bias. The Nigerian constitution clearly makes provision for the role of various security agencies in the country. While the military is tasked with protecting the territorial integrity of the nation, the police are charged with ensuring internal peace and order. Other security agencies such as the State Security Service, SSS, Civil Defence Corps also have their specific roles in the enabling acts establishing them.
The role of these security agencies will not doubt make or mar the election. Besides other general issues, the key factor for the success of the election will largely depend on how the security agencies are able to play the roles. Before now, the nation had witnessed an era where security agencies were used to rig elections on behalf an incumbent government.
As the nation stands on yet another threshold of history, this must not be allowed to continue. Security agencies must realise that history beckons on them now more than ever. They must realise that the manner in which they react to identified threats could leave lasting consequences on the election.
For Saturday’s election to be free and fair, all security agencies on duty must be neutral is carrying out their functions. All polling units must be well secured and no government official must be allowed to intimidate the electorate with their security aides.
Ethnic militias such as the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) must never be allowed near the election grounds. The constitution does not recognise these pseudo ethnic security outfits and they must never be allowed near the polling centres.
The military must also limit itself to its specifically assigned role in this election. A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Monday affirmed that they must stay away from the polling units. That court order must be obeyed. A great burden has been placed on our security agencies to ensure that this election goes well. We expect that they would live up to that expectation and stand on the positive side of history.