From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has urged politicians to play by the rules ahead of the elections in 2023 and avoid violent clashes during electioneering.
His warning is coming 14 hours after scores of supporters of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar were injured on Wednesday when hoodlums, attacked his convoy in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
He gave the warning while responding to questions bothering on recent attacks on the campaign rallies and political events in Rivers, Kaduna and Borno States during the weekly ministerial briefing at the presidential villa on Thursday.
On the Wednesday attack in Maiduguri, Borno State, the police boss said the state police spokesperson may have reached a conclusion too quickly in his assessment.
Baba disclosed at the 57th ministerial briefing that a team is being set up to thoroughly investigate the matter.
He explained that assessment from the state PRO might have been too hasty and not conclusive, hence the need to establish a team to make a holistic assessment from the various narratives to ascertain the true picture and prevent a reoccurrence.
He said: “On how realistic it is in stopping the issue of violence in our political agenda either in rallies or campaigns. Well, it takes two to tango. There are laid down means, ways procedures to do rallies and campaigns.
“On our part, we have gone out to appeal to politicians to play the game by the rules. And at the same time allow us to regulate political processions, campaigns and rallies, to avoid clashes and so forth.”
Meanwhile, Baba said the alleged abuse of power by local security outfit Ebubeagu in Ebonyi state and others in oppressing opposition, is being checkmated.
The IGP said: “I think I have even made announcements earlier than even their letter. On the day of the signing of the peace accord, I observed that we have not less than 64 Security outfits that have been created by different state governors with names for different purposes. But most importantly, the crime prevention and space is so wide, that we are encouraging everybody to come in. And that is why we said policing is something that requires the contribution of everybody. So while these outfits have been created to checkmate crime and criminality, we have also told them that they are not to be used for politicking or to be used for political reasons.”
The police boss acknowledged that some aspects of police duties have been commercialized to generate more revenue through the Police Specialized Automated Services (POSSAB) portal but the service has been abused.
He, however, threw out the idea that unscrupulous persons can use the portal to gain protection from the police.
The IGP said he was against the withdrawal of security personnel being attached to VIPs, saying some of them might be exposed to dangers
He said: “On the issue of security personnel being attached to VIPs to be withdrawn. For every rule there are exemptions, these people need to be protected but we try to do it with all sense of humility. VIPs need to be protected because some people really if left unattended can be an easy target and we will make too much noise.
“So we’re not withdrawing personnel, or I am not of the view of completely withdrawing security aides from VIPs. But that we will manage what we have and also checkmate crime and criminality without actually leaving them bare.”
On the security situation in Abuja, the IGP said the federal government did not dismiss the alarm raised by the US government asking their citizens to leave the country.
He said: “Nobody has dismissed it as just an alarm. The government has never dismissed it as an alarm but we only said it was blown or made in such a way that our people became apprehensive about the situation or the way it was done.
“The embassies have their own responsibilities to their citizens and they can make their advice and the government has not dismissed what has happened because they have also informed us of what they foresee as threats.
“And we on our parts have also looked at what they put as a threat as something that has been with us and efforts are being made daily to see that those threats are mitigated or prevented from happening and that is what has been happening in Abuja and all over the country.
“Sometimes, these threats or things happen but nobody has dismissed it as mere alarm and a lot of efforts have been made like you said to douse tension.
“Yes, actually arrest have been made for those, we believe are planning to commit a crime in whatever form and we have done that arrest and as at when due, those arrested will be charged to court by any of the services that have them.”