By Mohammed Tijjani
The security agencies in Kaduna State met with political parties and their candidates to engage them on peaceful, fair and free 2023 general elections in the state
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that those present at the meeting included the Police, Department State Security Services, Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Correctional Service, Customs Service, Army, Air force and Federal Road Safety Corps.
Political parties and candidates present included the PDP, APC , Action Alliance, PRP, LP, APGA, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP, among others .
The Commissioner of Police, Mr Yekini Ayoku, in his remarks, said it was a little over two months now that political campaigns officially kicked off in accordance with INEC guidelines.
According to him, “developments in the political space have necessitated that we hold this enlarged meeting with my colleagues, the heads of the various security agencies in the state.
He said it was necessary to drive home the message and reiterate the irreducible minimum that the law allowed in the legitimate pursuit of their ambitions.
“Recent happenings in the polity since the commencement of political activities have given vent to some worrying signs and hence the need for pro-activeness for all hands to be on deck.
“For the avoidance of doubt and sake of emphasis, the Electoral Act 2022, especially Sections 92 – 97, prohibited and criminalised a number of conducts and acts.
He said the engagement of non-state security outfits for campaigns, rallies and other activities in the electoral process was not allowed.
He added that it was an offence to bear or use weapons such as Dane guns, swords, daggers, bows, arrows and other dangerous weapons at campaign venues.
” For the umpteenth time, parties and candidates are warned against the use of thugs and other miscreants in the electoral process.
“This is just as you are strongly advised to base your campaigns strictly on issues, bearing in mind that politics is essentially a contest of ideas.
“Violence, incitement, hate speech, use of foul and indecorous language should be eschewed as I equally warn against removal/defacing of opponents’ posters and banners.
Ayoku said political parties and candidates were under obligation to submit to my office, campaign schedules well ahead of time for proper planning, to avoid clash in time and venue.
“Judging from your calibre, pedigree and standing in the society, I have no reason to doubt that the motive behind your ambition as candidates into various elective offices is to offer yourselves for service of the people.
“You should therefore leave the choice to the people to decide without attempting to railroad yourself or engage in extra legal means to attain victory at all cost,” he said.
He told them politics should be embraced as a game with its rules and such rules must be strictly observed
“As leaders, you have the responsibility to rein in your supporters and ensure they conduct themselves within the ambits of the law.
He said the Police and other security agencies would continue to give the necessary robust support to INEC as it midwives the electoral process.
“My colleagues and I are resolute in discharging our mandates of securing the process and providing the right security environment for delivery of a free, fair, hitch free polls.
“We assure you that we shall be professional, unbiased, fair and impartial in our dealings with all political parties,” Ayoku said.
The CP warned that nobody should doubt the will and capacity to strictly enforce the relevant laws guiding the process and deal ruthlessly with anyone who chose to contravene the stipulation of the Electoral Act.
He enjoined them to carry the message of peace to all the nooks and crannies of the state and help enlist the support of all and sundry to the security agencies.
The INEC Resident Commissioner (REC) Dr Mamudah Isa, reassured the political parties and their candidates of fair, free and credible election.
The REC represented by the Commission’s Administrative Secretary, Alhaji Auwal Mashi, tasked the political actors to conduct themselves according to the rules.
Also the Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Kaduna state, Mikailu Abubakar, tasked the candidates on issue- based campaign.(NAN)