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Governorship Poll: Edo’s Police And DSS Inexcusable Gaffe? By Ifeanyi Izeze

September 15, 2016

The serial gaffes by those President Mohammadu Buhari chose to work with should by now be an obvious embarrassment to him except we have completely lost it as a nation of people capable of thinking straight. Who wants to be a ‘change vanguard’ if the change government is deliberately being helped to repeat the mistakes of past administrations!

The dumb action of the Police and State Security Service (SSS) that orchestrated the postponement of the earlier scheduled governorship election in Edo State is inexcusable and at best very shameful. What kind of security agencies are these? Why engage in this kind of dubious, yet cowardly, tactical maneuver? If the entire security outfits cannot guarantee the safety of Nigerians in one state of the federation for just 24 or even 48 hours, then something fundamental is wrong. They know of an attempt to disrupt the elections, so why not address that attempt?

Those blaming the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the show of shame in Edo state are missing the crux of the matter. No doubt INEC has the power to postpone an already scheduled election. Section 26(1) of the Electoral 2010 Act (as amended), states thus: “Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election, provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable.

However, the agency couldn’t have gone ahead with the election considering the position of the two agencies that were supposed to provide security of lives and property for the exercise.

There is nowhere in the world, any serious-minded organisation such as INEC disregards security advice however flimsy or even partisan it may sound. Since they (those whose responsibility it is to secure the people) call it security report, INEC had no option but act accordingly. This is because if any security incidents happen, INEC would be blamed for refusing to listen to the advice from the experts.

The Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police had on Tuesday 6 September 2016 advised INEC to shift the election to a future date citing security concerns whatever that means. The advice was sequel to a meeting of the Director-General, DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, and the Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris, where the security situation in the country was reviewed.

In a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Don Awunah, and Mr. Garba Abdullahi of the DSS, the two security agencies said, “Credible intelligence availed the agencies indicate plans by insurgent/extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between 12th and 13th September, 2016.”

Is it not curious that the Police and DSS could raise this alarm at the time they did in a state without a history of security threat and where in less than 24 hours, the President and all the APC leaders across the country had converged to hold their campaign rally for the same election without a single ‘security incident’?

Hitherto now, can anybody describe Edo state as a haven for extremists, insurgents, and terrorists? So why should it be so difficult to nip any attempt to disrupt the elections in the bud? In any case, nowhere in the relatively more turbulent and restless north east geo-political zone were elections cancelled for security reasons during the last general elections despite the more credible threat of disruption from boko haram in these places. So, why are we having election cancellation or rather postponement in relatively peaceful Edo State?

As said by a security expert, “It does not require the brain of a rocket scientist to realise that some people, somewhere will attempt to disrupt the elections; neither does it require the brain of an abstract mathematician to think up all possible scenarios and plan against each of them.”

Is it not a big shame that in Nigeria, criminals drive the security agenda and not our so called security agencies? Instead of being proactive, our so called security agencies are always playing catch up, trailing behind the criminals. Our security operatives should actually hide their heads in shame. Raising security alerts where no tangible threats exist simply to cover lack of foresightedness on the side of our security agencies is an outright treasonable offense and the president should actually treat it as such.

Despite that the Police and DSS deceived us to believe otherwise, this is the true picture that produced the show of shame by the nation’s security agencies as pertains the cancellation of the Edo governorship poll: The postponement of the governorship election in Edo state has nothing to do with President Buhari or any political party winning or losing the elections though that cannot be ruled out completely.  Truth be told, it has everything to do with outright dereliction of duty at best and at worst gross display of incompetence and lack of will power to be honest on the side of the managers of both the Police and DSS.

A good appraisal of the challenge readily shows that there is no where the Nigerian Police could have pulled 25,000 police men and women to support the Edo election as promised by the IGP without creating a gap elsewhere during the Sallah celebration. The deployment of security personnel countrywide to secure lives and property would outstretch their capacity to at the same time provide adequate security for the elections. More so, the military personnel that could have supported the police in case of any trouble in Edo, are currently mobilized for the “Operation Crocodile Smile” in the Niger Delta and cannot be available for election duties at this time.

The empty or rather completely used brains that head both the Police and DSS did not do enough early appreciation on the fact that the very competitive Edo election was going to fall almost at the same period with the Islamic Sallah festival. Of course, we know that every yuletide comes with the heightening of security. We also know that every election is a warfare that requires the pulling of resources to ensure violence is contained. Having failed to find a way out of balancing the dilemma thrown up by competing security demands of the two events, the Police and the DSS decided to offer Nigerians the most uncooked reason (s) ever.

What is more baffling and indeed very ironic though is that President Buhari, the Commander in Chief could accede to his security chiefs on this dubious scheme without minding the fallout of their action on his personal integrity and credibility. This expressed disposition by the president is what is fueling the allegation that the ruling party (APC) was privy to this conspiracy against the Edo people.

He should have been firing his maladroit and uncouth security chiefs in charge of bot the Police and DSS for incompetence instead of trying to buy their dumb excuses. Sincerely speaking, not many Nigerians even the leadership of the opposition PDP could have kicked if the government had come out straight to tell us that securing the two events (Sallah and Edo governorship election) simultaneously was not feasible because of the various security operations current scattered across the country. To actually prove that he is not privy to this skullduggery, President Buhari should sack all of the heads of the security agencies who provided this excuse, for the cancellation of the Edo exercise. This is my view! God bless Nigeria!!

IFEANYI IZEE lives in Abuja and can be reached on: [email protected]; 234-8033043009