Security: Sleeping on the Alert

In spite of the heavy security to enforce restriction order on election day, some atrocities were perpetrated with reckless abandon

It was a reason President Muhammadu Buhari came under attack in the passing week.  Yet it happened under the nose of his men of force. The president had said that he had given orders that the security apparatus be “ruthless” , adding that anyone who snatched ballot box in this election would be doing that at the risk to his life.  A cross section of Nigerians felt that such a statement coming from the president would amount to the leader of the country giving license to the security operatives to use maximum force to deal with an offence for which punishment had been prescribed in the electoral law.

So the uproar was that such a thing could scare the electorate away from performing their civic duty. But contrary to that fear,  the turn out was impressive across the country.  In fact,  voters did not allow the scare campaign by some militant elements including Boko Haram,  the terror sect, to prevent them from performing their civic duty.  Early in the morning of the election day, multiple attacks were reported in Maiduguri,  Borno State. 

Mahmood Yakubu Photo
Mahmood Yakubu

Governor Kashim Shettima whose convoy had come under attack, with one person killed, on the eve of the election had to appeal to people not to allow authors of violence to scare them away from voting leaders of their choice.

That was not the only area where the killjoys tried to sabotage the exercise.  In Lagos,  some hoodlums sacked a polling unit at Ago Palaceway at Okota,  burning voting materials and ballot boxes.  The suspicion is that patrons of such hoodlums perhaps assumed that their candidate(s) may not have a chance of winning in the area. 

In Rivers State,  some persons said to be in military uniform went into a polling station in Ward 10 of Akulga area of the state killing one Thywill Datotubo said to be an agent of the People’s Democratic Party,  PDP.  It is also alleged that some chieftains of the opposition party in the state were with the assailants.  Another casualty of the wayward behaviour of the outlaws was Monwan Etete, a former chairman of Andoni local government area of the state who was killed even before the elections commenced on Saturday.  Andoni is the home local government area of Uche Secondus,  national chairman of the PDP.

Those who snatched 12 ballot boxes in Abuja may not have been at the federal capital when President Buhari issued the warning against that offence. There was some kind of curious development to the security aspect of the exercise.  Though there were complaints that the security personnel prevented voters from moving round to check their names at the different polling booths,  the same security operatives were not readily available to prevent some of these men from disrupting voting.

 In Yobe State electorate did not come out in good number because there was a message early Saturday morning that Boko Haram operatives were going to raid certain areas of the state.  They had to be wary of what may happen, because depending on state security over the years had come with mix feelings. Then mere friendly fire had resulted in crisis in some states like Kano, where factional political groups had fatal conflict.

Few days to the election there was a clash between supporters of former governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and Abdulmumin Jubrin Kofa,  former member of the federal House of Representatives.  The clash left five people dead and many others wounded.  These were the sad prelude to the madness reported on election day.  There were similar reports in Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi State States.

What this portend is that people had hardly learnt from past mistakes neither have politicians learnt the rule of good sportsmanship.

The consequence is that the voting planned to take place once and simultaneously in all wards across the country to enhance the integrity of the electoral system may end up having make up exercises is some parts of the country.  That takes something out of the exercise and the reason for which it was postponed in the first place.  Yet the last has been heard yet. 

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