With barely a week to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Suleman Abba, on Thursday revealed that some politicians were planning to announce parallel results, Thisday reports.
The police boss therefore cautioned individuals and groups not to declare election results different from the one announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) will use all legal means to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
He also disagreed with the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on whether voters should stay at the polling stations after casting their votes.
Jega had during last Monday’s town hall meeting said voters would be allowed to stay at the polling stations after casting their votes, provided they were orderly.
Abba said the warning became necessary following threats by certain category of politicians to declare their own results if what INEC announced was not favourable to their party.
According to the IG, who spoke during INEC’s briefing for international and local observers, “We have heard that some people are threatening to declare election result, we hope it is not true.
“If you don’t accept the declared result by INEC, the best way is to proceed to the tribunal, doing otherwise, telling the electorate to remain and protect their vote and if it does not favour you, is taking the law into your hands.
“In civilised society they don’t take the law into their hands but resort to tribunal,” Abba said.
He therefore harped on sensitisation of the political class, insisting that “the refusal to accept the result and resort to extra judicial activities is a threat to the electoral process.”
The IG however, appealed to those who have no believe in the judicial process to have a rethink, saying “you are causing apprehension and overheating the system.
“But where they don’t heed the appeal, the police will act within the law to protect the electoral process,” he added.
He pledged that the police would be loyal to the country, the constitution and activities before, during and after the election.
He explained that selection process by political parties, which does not follow democratic manner or imposition of candidates could incite crisis if the imposed candidate eventually win at the poll.
Abba also condemned the recruitment of miscreants by politicians, saying in some cases, arms are procured by the political class and made available to thugs, adding that “we have arrested thousands of thugs, we have recovered hundreds of fire arms.”
He noted that the delay in the provision of electoral materials, lateness in the commencement of voting, rigging and manipulation of results are threat to electoral process, adding that though INEC has done much to arrest rigging; however urged the commission to avoid delay and fasten the process of accreditation on election day.
He canvassed for one agent per political party at a polling unit, even as he urged voters to leave the polling unit after casting their vote in order not to contravene section 129 of the Electoral Act. “There is the likelihood you will commit offence if you remain at the polling unit. If you remain there, the law says you should be orderly.”
According to the IG, the police would be impartial, insisting that security agencies had pulled resources together to cover all polling units across the country, saying at least two to three personnel would cover each polling unit.
He added that the police have greater responsibility in protecting the electoral process even as he stressed that “every eligible voter must be safe to cast his vote; we will be there to protect all, specific laws are there to protect you,” he added.
On his part, the INEC chairman charged international election observers to respect the laws of Nigeria as regards their roles as election observers, stating that such is one of the basic rules of engagement.
According to the INEC chairman, who informed the observers of the guidelines over election observation said: “These guidelines are the normative basis for INEC’s engagement with foreign and local observers. The existence of these guidelines ensures that all parties recognise that election observation is a cooperative exercise in which all sides have rights and duties, which collectively ensure that the highest democratic standards apply.”
He further said: “Through its guidelines on election observation INEC seeks to frame three essential normative principles namely, rights, responsibilities and conduct of observers. Rights generally signify the entitlements of observers, responsibilities are the duties they bear, while conduct refers to behaviour and actions expected of them.”
“Among the rights of observers are adequate security and protection, adequate information; free access to voting facilities, free movement and civil treatment.
“On the other hand, the responsibilities of observers include respecting the sovereignty and laws of Nigeria, abiding by guidelines and regulations of INEC, attendance at briefings, careful, dedicated observation and to issue honest report on the election. In their conduct, observers are also expected to declare any conflict of interest, be impartial and unobtrusive, ensure that their reports and conclusions are evidence-based, eschew prejudgment of the process, always carry proper identification, be careful about comments in the media, be prudent in receiving gifts and favours and avoid involvement in disputes. I implore you be conversant with the provisions of the guidelines as you deploy to the field in the days that follow.”, the INEC chairman explained.
Jega informed the observers of the difference between election monitors and observers, stating that the commission has improved relations between observers and the Commission since 2011 is the establishment of the INEC Situation Room. According to Jega, “ This has made it possible for the Commission to respond rapidly to certain urgent observations made by observers. In other words, unlike in the past, the Commission does not have to wait for months after elections to receive reports, when it could intervene during elections to solve problems.
“The real-time report of events in the field to the Situation Room and the rapid intervention of the Commission when necessary have improved the quality of the electoral process and improved confidence between observers and the Commission.”
The INEC chairman drew attention to the difference between election monitoring and observation, saying, “I would like to draw your attention to one cardinal distinction that INEC makes through its guidelines for election observation. That is the distinction between election observation and election monitoring.
“According to the INEC Guidelines for Election Observation, there is a fundamental difference between the two. An election monitor is an integral part of the election management structure and has a role in the administration of the election. In Nigeria, only the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and its duly authorized personnel are empowered to monitor elections.
“An Observer on the other hand does not have any role in the administration of the election nor any control or oversight functions. To further simplify these points:
“An election monitor exercises some level of lawful authority over the conduct of elections as well as over officials involved; an Observer has no such powers.
“In Nigeria, a monitor must be a duly authorised personnel of the INEC; an Observer is independent and reports only to his or her organisation
A monitor can issue instructions and take decisions on behalf of INEC and to that extent would ordinarily possess a greater technical knowledge of the election process than an observer.
To enable them fulfill their functions effectively, INEC is responsible for training election monitors on election administration. The training of election observers is the responsibility of the organisations that deploy them.
“The roles, powers and functions of monitors are created and regulated and the authority so exercised is clearly spelt out. It is important to clarify these because observers in the past sometimes overreach the limits of our conception of observation, which often results in tension and disagreements. Indeed, the Nigerian legal system expressly states that a cardinal function of INEC is to monitor the electoral process.”