Ahead of February general elections, governors under the auspices of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) have expressed grave concern over the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the country.
The chairman of the forum and governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the end of an emergency meeting held with the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and heads of security agencies .
The meeting, which was at the instance of the NSA, was called to update the governors on the security situation in the country as the general elections approach.
The NSA sought the buy-in of the governors in the implementation of security measures for the smooth conduct of the elections.
According to Yari, governors were also alarmed at the spate of kidnapping across the country and had recommended stronger collaboration and intelligence sharing amongst security agencies to ensure that lives and properties are protected.
He further explained that the governors had further resolved to collaborate with security agencies to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible.
Yari said: “Governors are major stakeholders. They seek our cooperation so that their job would be easier. We promised to do our best and ensure the election is free and credible.
“Not only that, we came through the ballot box and we are going through the same process to seek re-election and make sure that the election is free and is commended by the international community as they did in 2015.”
Yari also dismissed insinuations that the present administration was planning to rig the election, saying the president had publicly declared that he was not taking the “election in any way as do or die.”
On his part, the NSA, Babagana Monguno, remarked that politicians who fear that they may lose the coming elections are the ones plotting to disrupt the exercise, warning, however, that security forces would deal with anyone caught engaging in such acts.
According to Monguno, intelligence reports show that there are plans by some individuals and groups to foment violence during and after the elections.
“Reports reaching me have revealed that some individuals that are uncertain of their fate in the elections are plotting to participate in widespread violence aimed at scuttling the polls,” he said, adding that the strategy of the politicians is to cause crises that can spiral out of control for the government and the people.
Monguno warned politicians against arming thugs during the elections, saying that such would not be tolerated by government.
He added: “There are indications that these unscrupulous elements are already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists to cause problems cross the country.
“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 act that can destabilise the nation.
“In this regard, we owe Nigerians the duty to protect and preserve their lives and property regardless of our individual or group aspirations.”
He reiterated that government would not tolerate any thuggery of bearing of illegal weapons .
“Government will demonstrate zero tolerance to political thuggery and illegal bearing of fire-arms.
“I wish to restate that our doors are always open to collaborate and act proactively to maintain the sanctity of Nigeria.”
He also disclosed that all state commissioners of police had been instructed to arrest anyone bearing firearms illegally or engaged in acts of violence during the elections.
While noting that no pseudo or quasi security outfits, such as vigilante groups, would be allowed to play any roles in election security during the elections, he said that government was doing all that is necessary to create an enabling environment for the conduct of peaceful elections in the country.
He assured of the neutrality of the security agencies against the backdrop of allegations in certain quarters, even as he revealed that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) had organised refresher courses for its personnel that would be deployed for election duty.
Monguno asserted that ONSA and all government security agencies were fully prepared for the election and were willing to cooperate and partner with state governors in the area of security.
On his part, the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, reassured Nigerians of violence-free polls, even as he pledged police neutrality in the elections.
He noted that the security agencies were ready for the election and would mop up illegal arms in the system as part of their security strategy.
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