From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Nigeria Police Force have revealed that it will deploy X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators during the 2023 general election to ensure that politicians moving on election days with tonnes of physical cash for vote buying are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.
The lead security agency also promised to ensure that the use of money to influence next year’s poll is not allowed or at most minimised to the barest minimum.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba, gave the warning at a one-day stakeholders summit on addressing the influence of money in the 2023 general election held in Abuja on Monday.
Represented by Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Bala Ciroma, the IGP said: “Concerted efforts are being made by the Nigeria police as the lead agency in electoral security management to ensure that the use of money is not allowed to influence the 2023 general elections or at least ensure that this menace is brought to the barest minimum.
“We will achieve this in synergy with sister security agencies, anti-graft and intelligence agencies and other stakeholders.
“The result of this synergy has started yielding positive results as a lot of arrests have been made especially of persons buying voter registration cards as a prelude to rigging the elections.
“Some political thugs have also been arrested and are being prosecuted in courts of competent jurisdiction. We will also ensure that the police X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators are moved to the field to ensure that politicians moving on election days with tonnes of physical cash for vote buying are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.
“We have also deployed intelligence officers who will get embedded in the crowd during political rallies to identify with precision persons encouraging or perpetrating violence.
“Let me state again emphatically that the use of the money during the 2023 elections is unacceptable and we will do all we can within the confines of the law to bring offending persons to book.
“Therefore, all hands are on deck and all the relevant security agencies are in synergy on this. We intend to provide a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of the 2023 elections,” he assured.
Lamenting how money is used to influence elections, the IGP said: “We have seen in recent times how some politicians move about with physical cash to buy votes, especially on elections day. The same approach has also been used in kind, through the purchase of items such as rice, noodles, clothes, sugar, salt etc, 31 candidates for distribution to the electorate in order to entice them to vote against their conscience.
“The use of money to influence the political process has so far manifested in the current litigations within members of some political parties. And in some cases, intra-party violence.
“Some politicians often use money to sponsor restive youths who are readily available and willing to be mobilised as political thugs and to wreak mayhem on opponents and voters.
“We have seen this in the current political campaigns and this violence could spread to post-election if the use of money is not checked. We cannot rule out attempts to entice the political umpires/security agents with money to influence the outcome of elections,” he noted.
“Some politicians spend huge sums of money to get elected to office. Thus, their priority in the office having been elected is to recoup the money they spent during the election.
“The consequence of this is that those elected provide poor governance and deny the public the benefit of good governance, as they most likely are not the best When elections are influenced by money, the credibility of process is questioned. This leads to rancour and the possibility of violence after the elections,” he noted.