From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, admitted on Thursday that the mass deployment of security personnel for the November 6 Anambra State governorship election may depress voter turnout, adding that the security measure was however necessary to forestall election interference and violence.

The IGP, who featured at the ministerial media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said to ensure that voters come out to exercise their franchise, the police has launched a media campaign to assure them of their safety.

According to him, most officers that would be assigned to polling stations would be unarmed as they would be involved in monitoring the process for vote-rigging and illegal campaigns at venues.

Asked if the mass deployment would not be counterproductive, the IGP said: ‘As for the massive deployment, yes, it has its advantage, and it has its disadvantage, and that is why knowing the fact that it has the disadvantage of maybe militarising the electoral process, we try to involve the engagement of public enlightenment, the engagement of stakeholders that our presence is to police the situation in two ways.

‘While we are asking people to come out and vote, another group or other subversive elements are saying “don’t come. If you come, we’ll do this, we’ll do that”. So, there must be some level of assurance that we would give to these people to come out and that requires the massive deployment of officers and men who would also ensure that the subversive elements do not take over the process.

‘While we have other elements that would police the election, we don’t even deploy them with arms. Those we are deploying to polling stations to ensure orderliness and checking of electoral malpractices, like vote-buying, campaigning in the place and so forth, this does not even require carrying of arms.

‘But you also need to put officers on standby, on patrol that would check the would-be persons that can carry arms against the state.

‘We are trying to educate and enlighten people that our presence is for the benefit of everybody, that our presence is for the benefit of ensuring that they come out and exercise their franchise of voting who they want.

‘And that is the essence of the jingles we are doing, the essence of going to do community engagements, stakeholders, meetings, talking to their religious leaders and so forth.

‘I think it has its advantage; it has its disadvantage, but we try to as much as possible ensure that it is for the advantage of everybody that the massive deployment should take place.’

Meanwhile, the IGP has said that the police is yet to receive an extradition request from the United States Government for the embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari.

Kyari was accused of receiving a bribe from internet celebrity and fraudster Ramoni Adekunle (aka “Hushpuppi”), who is currently standing trial in the US for identity thief and other related cyber crimes.

According to Baba, ‘I have not seen any extradition request on Kyari from the FBI or any other agency,’ adding that the police only looked at the allegations of fraud and other misdemeanours against the officer.

He disclosed that the police has concluded its investigations on Kyari and forwarded it to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for advice, adding that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice has forwarded his own advice on the case to the police.

He pledged the assurances of the police to act on the advice of the AGF ‘to ask Kyari to account for what we have found out.’

Baba also assured that the Nigeria Police is doing its best to sustain peaceful coexistence across the country, adding that the police is reviewing its public safety strategies in order to address what he described as ‘isolated cases of crime’ in some parts of the country.

‘The security situation in the country has been significantly stabilised, though we are still experiencing isolated cases of crime and threats to public safety, peace and security in some parts of the country.

‘The Nigeria Police Force is however unrelenting in rejigging its public safety strategies to adequately contain prevailing and emerging crime trends across the country.’

The federal police chief added that the strong collaboration between the Police, Armed Forces and other security agencies have led to the improved security situation in the country.

‘Let me state categorically that the new spirit of collaboration between the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Armed Forces, the Department of Services and other security and intelligence agencies in the country has indeed spurred a common front in reducing crime and criminality nationwide,’ he said.

On the steps being taken by the police to prevent crime in all parts of the country, the IGP stated: ‘We are expanding well-coordinated intelligence-led operations to confront bandits, kidnappers and armed secessionist groups by enhancing intelligence gathering efforts and utilising capacity. Enhancing intelligence sharing through strengthening inter-agency collaboration with the military and other security agencies is also an aspect that is being pursued.

‘We are deepening community engagement to weaken recruitment drive by secessionist groups. We are also improving our public relations and regaining the trust of the citizens through improved community engagements and enhancing ethical policies in the fight against corruption.’

Baba further revealed that there is strong collaboration between the police and its foreign counterparts, in the bid to check crime across the country’s borders.

He said the use of technology is also being explored to aid its fight against crime and criminality.

‘The Nigeria Police National Command and Control Centre, Nigeria Police Crime and Incident Data Base and the Nigeria Police Crime Analysis Centre are technology-driven outfits that are used to detect and tackle criminals and are also available for the public to use for what we call ‘Rescue me’ and once you download the app and use it appropriately, wherever is your position, request or complain, it will directly hit our control room within minutes and we will respond to your request,’ he stated.

Baba announced that since his taking office, over 7,000 suspects have so far been arrested, with many arms recovered.

‘We have made arrests of 7,036 notorious criminal suspects for offences of terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, cultism, banditry and other violent crimes and recovery of sophisticated and locally fabricated firearms and large catchment of ammunitions. Prosecution of the suspects is ongoing.

‘We have 1,845 armed robbery suspects arrested, 1,445 for crimes related to cultism, we have 1,183 murder suspects, for cybercrimes, we have also arrested 1,110 suspects. In terms of recovery of firearms, we have recovered 1,717 sophisticated firearms, 341 stolen vehicles have been recovered and in terms of live ammunition, we have 39,541 recovered. We have also rescued over 934 kidnap victims unhurt. Also, over 1665 suspects have been arrested in connection with the rape and other sexual and gender-based violence in the country to date,’ he explained.

The IGP disclosed that over 20, 000 cases filed by the police against various suspects are presently receiving attention in different courts across the country.

He also disclosed that the Nigeria Police has been receiving support from corporate bodies to enhance the performance of the Force in its fight against crimes and criminality.

‘We have received interventions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) and the Police Trust Fund (PTF). The PTF gave us 200 operational vehicles; NNPC gave us 250 operational vehicles, eight Armoured Personnel Carriers, drones, marine boats and other equipment. CBN‘s intervention is also forthcoming. All the vehicles we have received are manufactured in Nigeria,’ he said.

Commenting on the disappearance of a journalist, Tordue Salem, Baba said the case has been taken over by the Force Headquarters under a unit that has more capacity to handle the matter.

Baba also said the police have so far established the location where the missing journalist was last seen, the last person he met with and the last person he spoke to on phone before his disappearance, adding that the matter is being given the needed attention.