With about a week to go for the presidential election, the Nigerian Police said on Thursday that they will deploy their 310,973 officers to over 176,846 polling stations for the exercises to be held on February 25. March 11.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday, however, noted that “as much as the Nigeria police has perfected plans to engender a peaceful electoral process the following have been identified as possible challenges: hate speeches, political intolerance and extremism as well as anti-democratic conduct of some state governors and other strategic political actors which could inflame the political space.”
The police helmsman spoke at the 66th session of the State House ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa.
He said the personnel being deployed by the police would consist of conventional policemen and women, the mobile police, the special counter-terrorism unit, Special Forces, the intelligence response team and other sections of the police.
The Force said this number would be augmented with 51,000 personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, 21,000 from the Federal Road Safety Corps, 11,336 from the Nigeria Correctional Service, 9,447 from the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and 350 personnel from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said, “There exist 176,846 polling units in 8,809 wards of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT where the elections will be conducted.
“The Nigeria police, with the support of other security agencies, has perfected plans to deploy in a coordinated and collaborative manner to cover all these locations.
“In view of the above, the Nigeria police will deploy 310,973 personnel for the election security operations. This will comprise of conventional policemen, the mobile policemen, the special counter-terrorism unit, in Special Forces, intelligence response team and other sections of the police.”
The police chief noted that the deployment would cover the national collation centre in Abuja and other collation centres nationwide.
However, the staffing requirement for this exercise will be complemented by the military and other security agencies.
“Aside from the military and the DSS, other security agencies will contribute 93,495 personnel for the election security operations,” he said.
With regards to logistics, the police chief said the Force would deploy 74 armoured personnel carriers, 37 water cannons, 200 gun trucks, 1,240 patrol vehicles, 52 patrol carriers, 50 ambulances, 60 buses and 300 motorcycles.
Others include 75 gun trucks in the riverine areas, nine unmanned aerial patrol vehicles (drones) for mission-specific areas surveillance and support, motorised crowd control equipment, helicopters, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, canine support and mounted troop assets.
Meanwhile, the IG revealed that the Force would use minimal force to address possible violence that may trail the announcement of results.
According to him, the Force’s election plan extends beyond the announcement of results.
Therefore, he said, adequate plans were on the ground to identify, isolate and arrest individuals and groups engaged in post-election violence.
He said, “If there is any reaction after the announcement of election results, then the situation will be frontally confronted based on how it presents itself.
“The use of minimum force to bring down the situation will be employed. And for that purpose, we are ever ready.”
He said mitigating these threats would require, among other things, deepening intelligence activities and continued synergy with the military, the intelligence community and all other security agencies to present a common front in the election security plan.