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Election, Major Challenge For New IGP. Manasseh F. Paul-Worika

Reactions have continued to come from various quarters as President Muhammadu Buhari, decorated the new Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Adamu Mohammed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, recently.

Mohammed’s appointment has been greeted with a lot of excitements, both within and outside the police force. Some members of the public have expressed what could be termed, a “glimmer of hope” that the emergence of the new IGP would return sanity to the Nigerian Police given his track records of service in the institution. Others have accused the president of a one-sided appointment favouring the Northern part of the country.

Until his appointment, Adamu who hails from Lafia in Nassarawa State had served as the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, and was a one-time director of Peace keeping operations. Mohammed is certainly not oblivious of the sensitive implications of taking up such an assignment at a time like and does not need endless congratulatory messages either. Rather he needs the sincere prayers of well-wishers to help him run this onerous race of securing the nation and at a particularly challenging period.

He is coming into office moments away from the general election. Many states are seemingly in “turmoil” in a show of political supremacy. This has compounded the already collapsing security situation in almost every part of the country.

From Benue, to Nassarawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Osun, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and the FCT, the security situation has heightened, coupled with the ravaging reign of insurgency in the North East. Therefore, there shouldn’t be a debate on what Mohammed should do. Apart from having to contain any threat to the general election next month, Mohammed must address other issues that has been a source of national concern.

One of such issues is the violent clashes between armed herdsmen and farmers in states like Benue, Taraba and Nassarawa which has claimed not less than 2,000 lives in the past two years. The violent clashes between nomadic herders from Northern Nigeria have escalated in recent months and greatly threaten the country’s security and stability.

Mohammed should strengthen security arrangements in herders and farming communities especially in the states affected by this violent clash. This would entail collaboration with other security agencies to sustain campaigns against cattle rustling and banditry; improve early-warning systems; maintain operational readiness of rural-based police and other security units; encourage communication and collaboration with local authorities; and tighten control of production, circulation and possession of illicit firearms and ammunition, especially automatic rifles.

Another major issue which should be addressed by Mohammed is the issue of the Police Force maintaining neutrality in the forth-coming general elections. This may seem a herculean task for the new police boss, but scaling this hurdle would clear the doubts of most Nigerians that he is set for business. Issues of partisan activities by the Nigeria police In the Ekiti and Osun states election, point to the fact that a lot needs to be done in ensuring the Nigeria police maintain neutrality in the electoral process.

A representative of the American Embassy in Nigeria, David Young while speaking to stakeholders at INEC headquarters in Abuja ahead of the general elections, said, “One of the concerns is about the neutrality of the security services. For us, it is very important that the security services provide for the election security, the safety of the process of the election in a way that doesn’t interfere with people getting to the polls, civil society monitors, election observers who have access to observe the process freely”.

Mohammed has a task to ensure that his men put in their best to defend the larger interest of the nation. They must resolve not to fail and to carry out their assigned duties in strict compliance with the rules of engagement and the law. Rather than seek to compromise the integrity of the electoral process, the police should be seen to do their best to protect the process those who act otherwise and be made to face the consequences.

However, if there should be optimism for a better Police under Mohammed, is his meeting with senior officers in Abuja after taking the baton from Ibrahim Idris.

He told the officers, “We have within the short term, two major national assignments where our professionalism and commitment to duty will once again be subjected to national and international scrutiny.

First, is the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly Election on 16th February, 2019 and next are the governorship, state assembly, and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections on Saturday, 2nd March 2019.

These national engagements are of immediate priority to my leadership and, hence, in the next few days, the nation shall witness concerted police deployments and other activities which will all be directed at ensuring quality election security service delivery by the police, being the lead agency in election security management”.

“To the unrepentant felons that may want to put our communication will to test, the message is being relayed here loud and clear that in securing the law abiding citizens during the elections, we shall not hesitate to deploy our potent assets to deal firmly and decisively with electoral deviants”.

“Consequently, I call on political actors to assist the police and other law enforcement agencies in sustaining the gains recorded in our democratic journey. They should always remember that politics is a game guided by rules and it them to play the game within the dictates of such rules”.

The new Inspector General of Police has spoken confidently about his resolve to make a difference; all hands should be on deck to achieve peaceful election and a stable society.

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