Political parties armed thugs to undermine 2019 polls – IGP

Acting Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Mohammed Adamu on Thursday assessed the conduct of the 2019 general election, and concluded that though the election was conducted in a largely credible and peaceful atmosphere, it was discovered that political parties and politicians armed their followers to undermine the electoral process.

The Acting IGP who spoke at a two day annual summit of political parties and stakeholder’s organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) said security agents made series of arrest of such armed thugs and recovered illegal fire arms from them.

He said the discovery by security agents is a clear indication that the culture of political intolerance was still with us, adding that if not addressed immediately, it could pose potential threat to future elections and the nation’s internal security architecture.

He asked political parties to address the involvement of their followers in activities that tends to undermine the electoral process with their active backing.

He said: “”it is my conviction that this post general election evaluation initiative is vital to strengthening of our democracy in Nigeria to the extent that it will identify gaps and lessons learnt that could impact future elections.

“In this regard, our experience during the last general election indicates a gradual adherence as well as increased alignment with our electoral engagement to the rule of law.

“Although there are few noticeable and fundamental issues in the conduct of political parties and other strategic actors within the electoral process. The recent general election was largely credible and conducted under a suitable internal security order.

“From our perspective, the political parties must address certain issues. During the 2019 general election, a lot of things happened. These include diversion of electoral materials, political thuggery, intimidation of electorates, coordinated attacks on polling units and disruption of the electoral process, snatching of ballot boxes and electoral materials, coordinated attack on INEC staff and agents, vote buying and vote selling, impersonation and unlawful possession of permanent voters cards, unlawful possession of fire arms, kidnapping of electoral officials and opponents.

“All these were perpetuated by agents supported by political parties. We tried to stop this and made a number of arrests, and recovered a number of firearms that were given to these people by political parties.

“All these are areas you must look into during this summit which will review the conduct of the general election. All the challenges that I have enumerated are what we saw during the election and in your deliberation, you must begin to look into how to tackle these challenges.

“These are indications that the culture of political intolerance is still with us and if not mitigated, it could constitute a major threat to the sanctity of future electoral process as well as internal security.

“Therefore, it I my expectations that addressing these gaps will form part of the discourse here. There is no doubt that the conduct of political parties remains critical to the success of any electoral process.”

Acting Director General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Jonathan Juma said it is indisputable that political parties are at the heart of democracy and are crucial for the success of democratic governance.

Juma said however that despite evidence of democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic following five successive elections, and peaceful transfer of power from one civilian regime to another, there are concerns that democratic progress is occurring amidst fragility of the institutions of democracy, especially the political parties and the party system.

According to him, elections in Nigeria have remain contentious amidst disconcerting attitudes and comportment of the mainstream political elite, adding that engagement by the institution with the political parties since 2013 was informed by the understanding that political parties are essential institutions of democracy and provide the vital channels for aggregating citizens’ interests, and for holding government accountable.

The NIPSS boss argued that the health of a democracy is determined by the health and vibrancy of its political parties, adding that “I believe that this was what informed the EU-SDGN project, which NIPSS-PPLPDC, as a beneficiary, is handling Component 3, Support to Political Parties and Political Party System.

“In pursuance of these objectives, NIPSS-PPLPDC under the EUSDGN, conducted several training programmes and workshops for political parties in 2018, including the review of the Code of Conduct for Political Parties.

“Furthermore, NIPSS-PPLPDC conducted observation of political parties’ primary elections in 2018 and the 2019 General Elections. Specifically, we observed the Conduct of Political Patties during the 2019 General Elections in 12 States and the FCT.

“The exercise provided opportunity to examine issues such as the coma“ct of party primaries, conventions, campaigns, compliance to inclusiveness, adherence to the agreed Code of Conduct for Political Parties and other relevant legal frameworks.”

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