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Remain politically neutral, ensure peaceful outcome of 2023 elections, Buhari charges police force

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Owerri charged the Nigeria Police Force to perfect operational plans that will guarantee a credible outcome in the 2023 general elections while remaining apolitical, firm, and loyal to democratic values.

Declaring open the three-day Conference and Retreat for Senior Police Officers, the President directed the Police to review the current and evolving internal security threats as they may impact on peaceful and successful elections.

”As I have often observed, elections are local, and it is only when the votes truly count that the faith of the citizens in the democratic process can be demonstrated and government legitimacy assured.

”This can best be guaranteed through a well policed election and security operations that are impartial, firm and professional.

”This is what, on this day and occasion, I charge the Nigeria Police Force to deliver to the nation during the 2023 General Elections.

”I, therefore, task the Inspector General of Police to sustain his leadership standards that will guarantee a level playing field, and secure public space for the citizens to freely exercise their franchise, and for the outcome of the elections to be a true reflection of the peoples’ choices,” he said.

Assuring the force of his full support and encouragement in the build-up to the 2023 polls, the President expressed delight that the reforms undertaken under his watch are paying off with members of the Force demonstrating high professional, ethical and operational standards, reflected in performances in internal security operations.

Citing the conduct of the Police during the recent off-season electoral outings in some states, President Buhari said:

”My desire is to restore the primacy of the Police towards rebuilding public trust and professionalism.

”My vision is also to bequeath to the nation a Police Force that is not only modernized, but well-funded, suitably equipped, and appropriately re-oriented to effectively police our democracy and guarantee a stable internal security order under a citizen-led, technology-driven, rule of law guided by intelligence-based policing Models.

”I am inspired that by our reform initiatives, we have laid a solid foundation towards the restoration of the operational competence and professional efficiency of the Police.

”I am also pleased to note that our Police, in conformity to my democratic visions, and in manifestation of the positive impact of these reforms, have in recent times been demonstrating high professional, ethical and operational standards as reflected in their performances in internal security operations and during the recent off-season electoral outings in Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun States.”

The President, therefore, commended the Force leadership and all officers, emphasising the need to replicate the same feat in the forthcoming elections.

He noted that it was only by so doing that ”the Police can truly, be defined as not just the true friends of the citizens, but as dependable and trustworthy partners in the drive to advance our democratic journey.”

President Buhari also used the occasion to restate his commitment to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.

He declared that his administration has prioritized critical reforms in the Nigeria Police Force in order to reposition it to effectively fulfil its internal security and democratic governance mandates in conjunction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other strategic agencies in the electoral process.

Listing some achievements recorded towards entrenching an effective policing system and credible electoral process, the President recalled that he had assented to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill to provide legal framework for an enhanced funding regime for the Force.

Similarly, he said the Nigeria Police Academy Bill had been signed into law, granting statutory recognition to the institution and positioning it effectively to attain its young and futuristic manpower development programmes.

President Buhari also listed the approval of a new and befitting salary and welfare regime that aligned the remuneration of police personnel to the dictates of their critical functions.

He added that funds have been released to support the recruitment of ten thousand police Constables annually, to address the wide manpower gap in the Force.

”In addition, I approved the adoption of the Community Policing Model as the internal security strategy of the country with requisite funds released to implement the initiative.

”Special Intervention Funds to address critical operational and capacity development initiatives of the Force were also approved. As part of the re-engineering project of the Force, the Federal Government is currently working with some Development Partners towards strengthening the police reform agenda.”

President Buhari commended Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State for the exemplary support to the Federal Government on security governance, further exemplified by hosting the police event themed: ”The Imperative of a Nigeria Police Strategic Plan For Peaceful Elections.”

Governor Uzodinma called on the Police to ensure that the Strategic Plan for the 2023 General elections should make it mandatory for all candidates to undertake an oath denouncing electoral violence.

He added that candidates should also made be to sign an undertaking that all disputes over election results can only be challenged peacefully through the court processes ”and parties to the dispute must be bound by the outcome of that process.”

The Governor, who extolled President Buhari for his commitment to peace and stability in the country as well as commitment to credible elections, noted that Imo State has emerged as the preferred destination for high-level security events, having hosted the 2022 Nigerian Army Day Celebration and now the Senior Police Officers Summit.

”Imo State is safe again for business and tourism, all thanks to President Buhari,” he said.

In his remarks, the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba, assured the President and Nigerians that the Force would draw on the outcome of the conference to perfect its Election Security Strategy and Action Plans towards stabilizing the security and political landscape in the county.

He promised that the strategy would strengthen citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and produce a credible electoral outcome in the 2023 General Elections.

”In aid of this process, I can assure Your Excellency that the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) has undertaken a comprehensive 2023 General Elections Threat Analysis which highlights and geolocates possible threats across all 774 Local Government Areas of the Federation.

”This Report will be utilized to guide our appreciation of the security space as we finetune our Election Security Action Plan. Encouraged by Your Excellency’s motivation and support, however, I can assure that under my watch, the Nigeria Police will not disappoint Your Excellency neither will we fail the nation.

”We are fully committed to giving practical effect to the vision of Your Excellency in bequeathing to the nation a democratic legacy in which our electoral process truly reflects the wishes of the citizens.’’

Lauding President Buhari for leading the reforms in the Nigeria Police Force, the IGP said ‘‘indeed, history will, undoubtedly, remember Your Excellency as the President with the most impactful agenda for the reform, re-equipment, re-orientation, and modernization of the Nigeria Police Force.’’

He said the Police has taken delivery of thousands of operational assets procured with Presidential intervention.

The Police Chief expressed delight that all the assets acquired under this administration have been distributed to Police Commands and formations, adding that their deployment have remained the game changer in efforts to stabilize security and order across the country.     

He also thanked President Buhari for reviving the almost moribund Marine Unit, repositioning it to ensure security along internal waterways which was fast becoming a major crime route.

According to IGP Baba, the police have acquired and deployed 5 state-of-the-art Marine Gun Boats in furtherance to this goal, in addition to 10 earlier acquired as part of the modernization and internal security operational plans.

”We have within the budgetary provisions of the Force established an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Unit under the Airwing Section of the Force to deepen our specialized drone operations and surveillance functions across the country. Personnel to man the Unit have also been exposed to technical and professional training in South Africa,” he said.

The IGP also thanked the President for approving the 5-Year Roadmap for the Police Reform Initiative in March 2022 and subsequent inauguration of a multi-sectorial Presidential Police Reform Team in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, on October 26, 2022.

”Mr. President, Sir, these are just a few of the legacy for which the name of Your Excellency shall be inscribed in gold in the history of the nation and the Nigeria Police Force.

”They also represent the motivational tonic that will energise us to deliver to the nation an election security service that will justify the confidence and unprecedented support that Your Excellency has extended to the Nigeria Police Force,” he said.

The IGP also thanked the Imo Governor for donating 10 ultra-modern Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), fitted with the latest version of General-Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) and deployed to stabilize the security order in Imo State Police Command.

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