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Politicians who control thugs should have a rethink, violence won’t be condoned - Monguno

  Babagana Monguno, national security adviser (NSA), says rogues who plan to disrupt the forthcoming elections will be dealt with.   Mon...

 


Babagana Monguno, national security adviser (NSA), says rogues who plan to disrupt the forthcoming elections will be dealt with.

 

Monguno gave the warning on Friday at an emergency security meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 

Suspected hoodlums torched the INEC office in Ogun state on Thursday.

 

Festus Okoye, INEC’s commissioner for information and voter education, had said critical election materials including over 65,000 uncollected PVCs were destroyed in the fire.

 

The commission also reported an attack on one of its offices in Osun.

 

Afterwards, an emergency meeting with members of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security was fixed for Friday.

 

Speaking at the meeting, Monguno said he was aware that in the last month, at least 52 cases of electoral violence across 22 states in the country had been reported.

 

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He described the situation as a bad signal that must be dealt with decisively.

 

“We’re all aware of the fact that the president, as far as he is concerned, is committed to upholding and safeguarding democracy. This is what the people want,” the NSA said.

 

“The president has also given his directive through me to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere void of any rancour.

 

“The president is extremely pleased with the results of the elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun and he wants a repeat of such performance — a manifestation of the people’s will triumphing over any obstacle that might dismantle the democracy we’re trying to protect.

 

 “Now, I want to assure you that security agencies have been given clear-cut instructions to deal with any situation in which any rogue organisation or institution decides to embark on what we consider to be a fundamentally criminal undertaking.

 

“Any political party, including the party of the president, that wants to have a hand in violence, will face the consequences.

 

“Now, for those people who control these groups that have a tendency for unleashing violence, those people who have gangsters working for them, I want to send a very clear categorical and unequivocal warning, regardless of any party including the party of the president. For as long as you decide to scatter the election process, the law enforcement agencies will be uninhibited and equally visit you with the consequences of whatever actions you take.

 

“Those people who have a history of organising and controlling groups, please re-assess, re-evaluate. Hold your people and advise them that as long as they behave in a manner that suggests non-compliance with the election laws, they will be held accountable.

 

 “Therefore, it is important to call the people under your control, those thugs, those bloodthirsty-trigger-happy, straining-at-the-leash, foaming-at-the-mouth, desperate to harm the election process — they will be brought to law. Already, intelligence agencies have been tracking these people; this I can guarantee you.

 

“Have a nice, quiet fireside chat with them and tell them to lay down whatever plans they have because whoever wins in any state, whichever party wins, has won. This is the intention of the president of this country. There will be no excuse whatsoever.

 

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“So, if you think you can stretch security agencies, I think you’re making a mistake. You will be brought to book. If you think we have a history of not following through with whatever instructions given to us, I think this time you will be in for a real shocker.”

 

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, expressed worry over the growing trend of attacks on the commission’s facilities, and asked that “urgent and decisive steps” be taken because “as we all know, a peaceful campaign heralds a peaceful election”.

 

 “Nigerians are watching us. The world is watching us. We must never disappoint them. The attempt to sabotage or weaken our resolve will not deter us from conducting transparent elections in which only the votes cast by Nigerians will determine winners of elections,” he said.

 

Usman Baba, the inspector-general of police (IGP), said some arrests have already been made and that investigations are ongoing.

 

Others present at the meeting included Yusuf Bichi, director general of the Department of State Services (DSS), and Ahmed Abubakar, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

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