Election violence: Deal with perpetrators, idle policemen – Okiro

Chief Mike Okiro

A former Inspector-General of Police (I-GP) Chief Mike Okiro, has called on I-GP Alkali Baba to deal decisively with election violence perpetrators and policemen who watch aimlessly while such violence s being committed.

Okiro made the call on Thursday in Lagos, while addressing neewsmen about his views concerning the general elections, particularly on security for the exercise.

He urged the police to deal with hired gunmen, political thugs, sundry election miscreants and offenders to deter others.

Okiro, who was also a former Chairman, Police Service Commission, said while the election was peaceful in some areas, the conduct was marred by widespread violence, intimidation and forcefull prevention of voters from casting their ballots for the candidates of their choice.

“What strikes me the most in all of this, and which I consider objectionable and roundly condemnable as a trained security officer, is the election violence and voter-intimidation, especially the use of gunmen and thugs to harass, scare away voters and election officials, as well as the snatching of ballot boxes.

“In some domains, certain persons were strongly accused of dishing out threats to voters to vote for certain candidates against their conscience or face dire consequences, like being driven away from the parts of the country they chose to live and do their businesses.

” In some other areas, the properties of Nigerians are being willfully destroyed, ostensibly to cow them to vote for candidates that are not their choice.

“Sadly, some policemen were accused of watching helplessly while the violence was orchestrated. Should such conducts still be trailing Nigeria in the 21st Century? The answer is absolutely NO,” he said.

The former I-GP also advised journalists reporting any ugly event during elections, such as snatching of ballot boxes, destroying ballot papers or policemen compromising, to capture the date and location in their reports, for easy verification by security agencies and others.

Okiro urges journalists to be very vigilant and aggressive in capturing video clips of any form of election violence involving armed gangs and thugs hired by their principals to disrupt the polls.

“Such media reports should be explicit with the state, local government, ward, polling unit or specific domain where such incidents are witnessed.

“The report should also be personally signed or bear the name tag of the reporter so that it will not be dismissed as fake news by investigators that may be detailed to probe further into the matter,” he said.

Okiro noted that the constitution guaranteed the freedom of movement, to vote and be voted for, as well as the freedom of any Nigerian to reside in any part of the country without molestation.

He said citizens should not be forced or cowed to vote for or pander to the dictates of any candidate other than the candidate of their choice. (NAN)