AN ADDRESS BY IGP MOHAMMED A. ADAMU, NPM, mni, TO POLICE PERSONNEL DEPLOYED ON ELECTION SECURITY DUTY FOR THE ONDO STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS
It is with a sense of professional commitment that I address you today as part of the preparations for the 10th August, 2020 Ondo State Gubernatorial Elections. By virtue of the Electoral Act, the Nigeria Police Force is the lead agency in the electoral security management framework. In essence, our conduct could have an amplifying effect in the electoral process right from the campaign through the voting stage up to the post-election litigations. This explains why the attention of political stakeholders and indeed, the nation is often focused on the performance of police personnel deployed to secure the electoral process. The Ondo election will certainly not be different.
2. In consequence, the political actors, electorates and the citizens who are desirous of a peaceful and secure space within which they can freely manifest their voting rights, expect of us a high level of discipline, professionalism, civility, respect for their rights and sensitivity to our democratic values. The reality is that their expectations are not misplaced. For even the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Act 2020, the Electoral Act and other enabling laws have placed on us the sacred responsibility of securing the citizens and aiding the nation in advancing our electoral journey.
3. What this means is that the searchlight shall naturally be on you. It also means that you should all be prepared to be held accountable for all your actions and inactions as you discharge your election security duties. I have in the course of my interaction with the stakeholders vouched on your behalf that you shall all be apolitical, firm and uncompromising. I assured them that while we shall be civil enough to protect the law-abiding citizens, we shall be decisive in dealing with any political deviant that may attempt to disrupt the peaceful order during the election.
4. Beyond securing the public space all through the electoral process, you shall be deployed to adequately police the 3,009 Polling Units (PUs) in 203 Wards spread over the 18 Local Government Areas of the State. You shall also be utilised to protect the personnel, materials and facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electorates, and residents of Ondo State in general before, during and immediately after the elections. In the performance of your duties, you are to be conscious of the fact that you shall be complemented by personnel from other security agencies and the Military. Hence, I encourage you to cultivate the culture of inter-agency respect and cooperation.
5. Let me use this opportunity to appreciate and commend all the police personnel that participated in the Edo State elections. Their strength of character and exceptional professionalism have been widely acknowledged as being responsible for the unprecedentedly peaceful, credible, free and fair outcome of the Edo State gubernatorial election. I trust that you shall draw inspiration from that experience and ensure that Ondo State Gubernatorial Elections is also well policed for the citizens to freely vote and for their votes to count.
6. I charge you to maintain political neutrality and resist any temptation that could betray your professional calling or threaten the democratic process. You are to be guided by your Oath of Office and allegiance to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the performance of your duty, you should also prioritise your personal safety by adhering strictly to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
7. In addition, you should conduct yourselves within the framework of the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty as developed and approved by the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). On my part, I assure you that your welfare remains of importance to me and as such, I have directed the prompt payment of your allowances.
8. Let me use this opportunity to express my deep concern over the re-surging trend of unprofessional conducts by some police personnel who in utter disregard to their professional training, international protocols, constitutional dictates, Force policies, and ethical standards have continued to drag the Force into acts that pitch us against the citizens we were engaged, paid, and statutorily obligated to serve and protect. I am in this instance, referring specifically to the excesses of personnel in the Federal and State anti-Robbery Squad and other special units that operate in mufti.
9. For the avoidance of doubt, the United Nations and African Union Protocols expressly provide for the right to life, dignity, liberty and presumption of the innocence of an offender until otherwise proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria similarly guarantees the inalienable rights of citizens. It is in furtherance to this, that we collaborated with our development partners in updating the Nigeria Police Force Order 237 which guides the use of force in the line of duty by all police personnel.
10. The message here, is that no component of our laws or international protocols authorizes the unlawful killing or degrading treatment of fellow citizens as law enforcement agents and no element of our professional training or ethical standards permits any police personnel to deploy lethal weapons either consciously or otherwise except as provided for in our statutes and in Force Order 237. Unfortunately, all the recent incidents of abuse of police powers violated these provisions.
11. The Nigeria Police remains a disciplined organization that strives to advance its covenant with the citizens in relation to protecting their lives and property and safeguarding them against any form of threat, extortionist tendency or degrading treatment. I wish to therefore, reinforce the extant Force Accountability Policy which holds any officer professionally and criminally liable for the consequences of their actions.
13. I am, therefore, sounding this note of warning loudly and clearly that henceforth, any police personnel that insists on being incorrigible by engaging in abuse of his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service. In addition, such personnel could be charged to court in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.
14. I charge all Heads of Departments, Zonal Inspectors General of Police, Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers or Sectional Heads to strengthen their supervisory control towards enforcing discipline among all ranks in their jurisdiction. I must emphasise that enough is enough. The nation and indeed the police under the current leadership shall no longer tolerate abuses associated with the Police.
15. In this regard, I wish to re-emphaise my earlier directives as follows:
1. All the operatives of the Federal and State Special Anti-Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti are banned from routine patrols on the highways and streets. Their operational deployments are to be limited to responses to specific security breaches including armed robbery, kidnapping or other violent incidents and in such instance, they must be expressly authorized by the appropriate police authority
2. Operatives of the Federal and State Special Anti-Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti are also banned from engaging in conventional, low-risk duties including stop and search, mounting checkpoints or road blocks, undertaking traffic duties and other functions which are within the purview of the uniformed conventional police detachments
3. The indiscriminate, unauthorised and degrading search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart electronic devices of citizens by all police personnel is hereby banned. The only exception is if such an act is in furtherance to a specific case that has been reported and is a subject of criminal investigation in specific Police Station or Unit. In which case, due process must be followed by the investigating team.
4. All recent cases of abuses of power and violation of rights of citizens by FSARS, SARS, IRT, STS and other police Teams shall be investigated, and any personnel found culpable shall be appropriately dealt with.
5. In order to coordinate compliance with these directives, I have ordered the immediate deployment of the X-Squad and IGP Monitoring Unit to all Commands with a clear directive that any erring personnel be apprehended and dealt with within the dictates of the Force disciplinary process and the law.
16. A signal to this effect has been circulated to all Police Commands and Formations. The choice now is for each officer to either resolve to perform his or her duties within extant rules, laws and policies or be prepared to be shown the way out of the system.
17. On this note, I thank you for your commitment and sacrifice, and I wish you Allah's (SWT) protection as you serve the nation in the course of this critical national security assignment.