Ensure every Nigerian votes freely, peacefully Buhari tells security chiefs


* Elections are holding, no going back, Nat Security Council insists

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the all the security chiefs of the country to make sure adequate security is provided during and after the general elections on Saturday February 25, 2023 to enable citizens to go out and vote their choice candidate.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami alongside the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali said the president gave the order on Wednesday during the National Security Council meeting he presided over at the Presidential Villa, Abuna.

The Council further consolidate and appraised the comprehensive and general preparation of the system relating to the conduct of the elections.

The meeting, being the third in series of appraising and reviewing the state of preparedness is called upon by the President, briefings were made by security agencies generally and service chiefs – National Security Adviser; Chief of Defense Staff; Chief of Army Staff; Chief of Naval Staff; Chief of Air Staff; Inspector-General of Police (IGP); Director-General, State Security Service; and the DG NIA (National Intelligence Agency); and CDI all made submissions.

According to the security chiefs, the system is wholeheartedly ready for the conduct of the elections and arising there from, the position of the government, the position of the President is to the effect that the election is holding on the 25th day of February, 2023.

Malami said that Mr. President and the National Security Council were happy with the preparations on the ground and wholehearted arrangements are put in place in that direction.

“Arising from the conclusions of the Security Council meetings, the resolution of the Council, is to the effect that the elections are holding and there is no going back about it,” the minister of Justice quoted the Coumcil in it’s conclusion.

The minister said, “Before the National Security Council meeting yeaterday, Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting had taken place at which Mr. President called the national Chairman of the INEC to brief the Council relating to the preparations of the electoral body over the elections; and the Chairman came, made comprehensive submission, establishing their preparedness, establishing the fact that they are ready for the conduct of the election.”

Out of further abundance of caution, Mr. President equally caused the holding of the Council of State meeting, in which the INEC Chairman was summoned to now present before the Council the level of their preparedness over the conduct of the elections.

At that Council of State meeting, the INEC Chairman gave further confirmations, undertakings, presentations of their level of preparedness.

IGP Alkali who also spoke readiness of the security for the safe conduct of the elections, said the meeting specifically dwelled on the preparedness of all the security agencies and the military towards conducting free, fair and credible elections come 25th of February and that of 11th March, 2023.

Alkali said the Council is satisfied that the Nigerian Police, leading other security agencies and also the members of the armed forces and intelligence community, are all prepared towards providing the electoral umpire, and Nigerians who wants to exercise their franchise the opportunity to go out and exercise their right of voting.

“We were able to inform Mr. President that security-wise we’ve been able to … this country in terms of threat analysis in terms of what we expect, what we need to do during, before and after the elections and the military have also pledged their commitment to support the process by providing the needed support at their own level, which requires different kinds of assistance in terms (because they may not be actually policing the election, but they are to ensure that no adversary, by whatever means, comes out to disrupt the process).

The INEC has also told us that it has everything in its custody, the Chief of Air Staff has confirmed his continuous commitment to making sure that where his assistance is needed, everything that requires his assistance in terms of deployment of materials will be done.

So also, the Chief of Naval Staff, who’s going to give the same support in the riverine area and we, on our part, are going to provide security like I briefed this press sometime last week that we expect we will be able to cover every polling station in this country with our men and we also expect to provide a motorized patrol to ensure that no adversary comes by any way to disrupt the electoral process,” the Inspector General of Police explained.

The IGP said that Mr President specific instructed that they should maintain law and order.

“The specific instruction is that we must ensure that Nigerians are allowed to come out and exercise their franchise or vote the leaders of their choice and for that we must create a conducive environment or atmosphere for Nigerians to exercise their right.

“We must also provide protection for INEC materials and officials to do their work. We must ensure that before, during and after the election, whatever fallback it is, we do not have people who will take the laws their hands and if there is any, we should be able to check within the quickest possible means to ensure that it does not snowball into a bigger crisis,” the IGP said.