Major General Ishola Williams (rtd), former chairman of the Nigerian chapter of Transparency International, has revealed that the Nigerian Police Force’s inability to provide adequate security for the nation during elections is due to the fact that it is still operating on its 1949 structure.
Willams asked that the force be placed under the Ministry of Interior for effective supervision and that the Ministry of Police Affairs to be discarded. He made this declaration in Abuja at a post-election management review organised by CLEEN Foundation on Monday, June 22, 2015.
He emphasized that the job of the National Security Adviser and the military did not include election security hence it was wrong for them to be involved in such.
He said; “If well structured, Nigeria would have no problems with elections. States should organise their own polls, what is the business of INEC organising governorship elections? The Nigeria police is still based on 1949 structure and that is why it cannot provide election security.
“The Police affairs ministry should be scrapped and the Force placed under the interior ministry. It should have a Director-General in charge of intelligence and general investigation.”
He insisted that by involving the NSA and military in the 2015 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had erred pointing out that Ghana had a security coordinating committee for election security.
“In Ghana, they have the security coordinating committee which oversees election security; the NSA should not be involved (in elections) at all. When I saw their budget running into billions, I just shook my head and wondered what they are doing with such amount of money,” Williams stated.
According to him, he noted that the deployment of soldiers for the polls could have been avoided since other security agencies were on hand to help the police and that the allegations of rigging that trailed Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections should have been avoided.
Williams’ observation was countered by Prof. Okey Ibeanu from INEC. Prof. Ibeanu argued that the military taking part in election security actually had a basis in law and that it was actually done to deter political thugs from whatever designs they might have had. He defended the NSA’s role in the elections saying that its role was to coordinate the various security agencies in the country.
Solomon Arase, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), said that there are a lot to be done as regards the securing and organisation of the electoral process. He said, “this is the time to start planning for 2019 and other staggered elections like the governorship polls in Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Osun and Kogi States.”