The Nigerian Police Force, NPF, yesterday warned that, none of its personnel deployed to man the inner rings of polling booths should be seen bearing lethal weapons during the forthcoming general elections.
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, gave the warning in Ilorin, Kwara state capital while delivering the maiden distinguished personality lecture of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin.
He however said that the affected police operatives could only wield batons.
The lecture was at the instance of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies of the faith-based varsity.
Speaking on the lecture with the topic “Engendering security and public safety among stakeholders towards peaceful 2023 general elections in Nigeria”, Baba said men of the police at political gatherings shall be limited to the maintenance of peace and order as well as enforcement of extant laws.
He added that officers posted to the venues of elections must be acquainted with procedures guiding the conduct of the exercise.
“All security personnel participating in the election should have the knowledge of procedurals at the election venues. That is classification of inner and outer rings respectively to serve as a guide in deployment, the IGP noted.
“On no account should personnel deployed to the inner ring of the venue of the political events or voting centres/polling booths be seen with any lethal weapon, except baton. Involvement of the Police at political gatherings shall be limited to the maintenance of peace and order, and enforcement of extant laws.
“Officers shall at all times exercise maximum restraint while covering political gatherings or deployed at voting/collation centres. Force personnel shall not at any time turn themselves into spectators but shall at all times be conscious of happenings around them, observe precautionary measures, personal and public safety while on duty.
“Police personnel shall use tact and persuasion to resolve issues when dealing with or confronted by agitated persons, to avoid escalation where there is tension”.
He revealed that 10,000 policemen billed for passing out from Police Colleges nationwide at the end of this month would be deployed to augment the police strength already on ground for duties in the forthcoming general elections.
Baba, who spoke through the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 8 Headquarters, Lokoja, Mr. Ashafa Adekunle, vowed that the force would not tolerate acts that could jeopardize the peaceful conduct of the polls irrespective of whose ox is gored.
He added that police under his leadership had ensured that stakeholders in the elections conduct themselves within the ambit of the law.
The Inspector General of Police, who promised that the force would not be partisan in all ramifications of the polls, urged political parties to make their campaigns issues-based and avoid inciting violence before, during and after the elections.
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