The Federal Government of Nigeria has again said it has uncovered plans by some politicians to cause violence during the forthcoming general elections.
The latest announcement was made by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, on Tuesday in Abuja.
He made the claim while addressing governors of the 36 states of the federation.
Mr Monguno’s claim follows a similar one by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who last week said the government has uncovered plans by opposition politicians to cause violent attacks across 10 states during the elections.
Mr Mohammed said the government was in possession of intelligence to the effect that widespread violence being orchestrated by the opposition is threatening the elections.
Like Mr Mohammed, Mr Monguno provided no evidence to support his claim. He also did not state why the alleged planners have not been arrested amidst allegations by the opposition that the government is planning to clamp down on opposition leaders.
On Tuesday, Mr Monguno told the governors that because of the usual stereotype that elections in Nigeria are always followed by violent clashes and sometimes loss of lives and property, security agencies have been working round the clock to ensure that the next general elections are free of any form of post-election violence.
Mr Monguno said, however, that “recent intelligence reports have indicated plans by some individuals and groups to instigate violence during and after the coming elections.”
The NSA said the reports he received revealed that some individuals that are uncertain of their fate in the elections “are plotting to precipitate widespread violence aimed at scuttling the conduct of the polls.”
He said the strategies being adopted by the politicians, who he did not name, is “to cause crises that could snowball into endless crises for the government and citizens”.
“There are indications that these unscrupulous elements are already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists to orchestrate violence during the elections in several states of the federation.
“I will refrain from being specific on some of the plots that have been uncovered, though the security agencies will spare no efforts in dealing appropriately with any act that can destabilise the nation and paint us collectively in a bad light among the comity of states,” he said.
Mr Monguno told the governors that no individual or group is greater or more important than Nigeria.
He said to that extent, no individual or group’s ambition is worth the loss of life of any Nigerian or national cohesion.
“In this regard, we owe Nigerians the duty to protect and, preserve their lives and property regardless of our individual or group aspirations,” he said.
The NSA said the federal government through the appropriate institutional tools, is doing all within its powers to create a suitable environment for a peaceful election.
He said an Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), which he co-chairs alongside the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has been meeting periodically to ensure a coordinated approach to making the electorates safe during the elections.
“We are at present dotting all the ‘i’s and crossing all the ‘t’s to achieve this objective. The committee is meeting weekly at present and the frequency of the meetings will increase as the elections draw nearer.
“I need to use this opportunity to restate that the security agencies remain neutral, contrary to insinuations by mischief makers,” he said.
He also said President Buhari’s commitment to democratic norms was clearly indicated in his speech at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2017 when he said: “Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken”.
That, he said, is the reason for the resources spent by the office of the National Security Adviser to organise refresher courses for the personnel that will be deployed for security duties during the elections.
He said the training being given is the first of its kind in Nigeria’s history.
Mr Monguno said security is a collective responsibility and not the exclusive preserve of security agencies.
He said as chief security officers of their states, the primary role of governors is the security and welfare of the people.
He said his office and all government security agencies are ready and willing to cooperate and partner with governors to deliver on their constitutional mandate.
“In the same vein, we shall not spare any effort to do the needful in any event of activities that threatens the security and welfare of Nigerians.”
Mr Monguno told the governors that as the nation goes into the elections, “no pseudo or quasi-security outfits, such as vigilantes or under any guise, is allowed to participate in election security duties.”
“Government will demonstrate zero tolerance to political thuggery and illegal bearing of firearms. The IGP has instructed the various commands to arrest anyone bearing fire-arms illegally or engaging in acts of violence,” he said.
In their response, the governors, through their chairman, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, commended the Nigerian security agencies for the arrangements being put in place for the elections.
Mr Yari expressed the commitment of all governors to collaborate with all security agencies to ensure that the forthcoming elections are free, fair and conducted in an environment conducive for peaceful elections.
“Governors are however concerned about the proliferation of arms and ammunition, and the spate of kidnapping across the country,” he said.
Mr Yari’s Zamfara State is one of the states most affected by banditry. The armed bandits attack communities at will, kill many and kidnap others for ransom.
Mr Yari said the NGF recommends stronger collaboration and intelligence sharing amongst security agencies in the country to ensure that all lives and property are protected, regardless of individual or group affiliations.
“We seek stronger synergy between governors as the chief executive officers of their states and the heads of security agencies to strengthen preemptive measures of curbing election violence and other anti-social vices,” Mr Yari said.
Apart from the NSA Monguno and state governors, the meeting was also attended by acting Inspector General of the Police, Mohammed Adamu; and the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Bichi.