Commissioner of Police for the June 21st, 2014 Governorship Election in Ekiti, Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba, after the exercise spoke with journalists on the widely regarded successive conduct of the election. Thegazellenews.com’s JUMU’AH ABIODUN DAWUD was at the session. These are excerpts from the interview:
Many have applauded the performance of your team during the Ekiti governorship election, what is your reaction to this?
We are very proud of the landmark achievement made in the history of electoral security and integrity in the country. Since the pronouncement of June 21, 2014 as the date of the conduct of the governorship election in Ekiti State, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police under the leadership of the Inspector-General, Mohammed Abubakar as the agency of government responsible for internal security, was aware of the high expectation of the political enthusiasts, electoral stakeholders residents of Ekiti State and the entire nation, in ensuring a peaceful and orderly election.
To this end, the IGP rolled out a number of strategies and participated actively in efforts aimed at addressing root causes of electoral violence. This was done through various stakeholders’ meetings, sensitisation programmes, advocacy visits, etc. and putting in place contingency arrangements to cater for any unplanned event. Also, there was massive acquisition of sophisticated equipment with which the men would work. In the build up to the election, the police was transparent, firm and decisive in dealing with situations that came up. The isolated cases of violence recorded were professionally handled to send strong message that police will not compromise or be compromised under any circumstances. All these put together, with the cooperation of the people, resulted in the success we are talking about.
In spite of the fear of possible outbreak of violence during the election, it was a thing of joy that the election did not record any violence, how did you achieve this?
We have learnt from our mistakes of the past and that is why we are celebrating this success. Some people were sceptical and justifiably pessimistic about our ability to deliver credible and peaceful election considering past elections and the difficult situation under which the police work. However, our resolve to stand on the side of the people and enforce the law without fears or favour worked for us. Many observers, both local and international, came to ask our level of preparedness and we assured them of our forthrightness, openness and a level playing ground to all the political actors.
In addition, we put in place many proactive measures to forestall breakdown of law and order and some of the measures we put in place included closing of the state’s borders 48 hours before the election; movement restriction order which was perfectly obeyed by the residents; dedicated distress call hotlines were given out and were publicised and the conduct of security analysis to identify volatile and difficult areas as well as placing would-be trouble makers on watch lists and conducting raids on criminal hideouts and black spots.
In addition, we mobilised and deployed over 16,000 highly motivated personnel from various units including conventional officers, anti-riot units, special protection units, counter-terrorist units, bomb disposal units, canine sections, mounted troops, the air wing and detectives. We didn’t stop there because we also deployed adequate logistics for the election. There were three helicopters deployed to conduct aerial patrol and there was no part of the state that was not covered by the helicopters throughout the duration of the election with the election CP on board. Above all, the cooperation and support of the people of the state was crucial factor.
With such heavy deployment and presence of numerous men, how would you then rate the performance of your men?
The performances of officers and men deployed for the election have demonstrated that the Nigeria Police is made up of disciplined, committed and highly professional men. The civility, impartiality, hard work and exemplary conduct of our personnel is an eloquent indicator of the readiness of the Force to provide the needed atmosphere for future elections in the country. I want to thank the IGP specially for providing an enabling environment for the personnel by taking their welfare seriously.
The allowances were paid upfront and the IGP came to Ekiti to personally address and to reassure them of his support. All these boosted the morale of the men and they were able to deliver on their constitutional mandate. However, for those who acted beyond their brief, prompt disciplinary measures were taken against them to serve as a deterrent to others.
In all, how many senior officers were on duty during the election?
The IGP deployed one Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) and five Commissioners of Police to supervise the election. AIG Bala Nasarawa was the supervising AIG, myself was the CP Command for the purpose of the election. CP Danladi Mshelbwala was in charge of Ekiti South Senatorial District; CP Augustine Eubakhabokun in charge of Ekiti North Senatorial District and CP Mohammed Ibrahim in charge of Ekiti Central Senatorial district. The senior officers were able to coordinate and supervise the activities of the personnel very effectively.
Talking about the cooperation of the people, how would you rate it sir?
Ekiti people are wonderful people and I commend and salute them for their comportment, discipline, orderliness, patience and understanding. They proved the critics wrong by the massive turnout, support and cooperation given to the security agencies. I must submit that their cooperation with all security agencies was vital to the success recorded in the conduct of the whole electoral process. We also thank the politicians, regardless of who won and who lost, for playing according to the rules. They have demonstrated that in a democracy, power rests not in those in elected offices, but with the people they have the privilege to serve.
You will be retiring from the Force on July 9 and this assignment came at a crucial time in your career. How do you feel personally about it all?
I have no regrets joining the Police. I have paid my dues very seriously; worked in the six geo-political zones of the country and I’ve served the force in various capacities. As a very young officer, as DSP, I was the Commander MOPOL 19 in Port Harcourt. As Superintendent, I was Commander MOPOL 18, Owerri. As CSP, I was Commander 1 Kaduna and as ACP and so on. I’m a well trained officer and I served as CP Plateau State and you are all aware of the crisis in Jos but I stabilized the place. From there, I was transferred to Bauchi State in 2011 and we battled the menace of Boko Haram and from there, I was transferred to Delta State as CP. so, no regrets whatsoever. Delta is a very rough terrain but we are recording successes. I remain in Delta State from where I was posted to Ekiti on election duty.
I happen to be one of the trusted officers by the IGP, a man who is an epitome of what an officer should be. I’m happy to serve under him. He gave us a marching order that we should make sure that a level playing ground was provided and we assured everybody that that level playing ground would be provided and we did. July 9 I would have completed my service and I’ll bow out.
You may have come to Ekiti with some idiosyncrasies as regards the people of the state. Now that you have come to Ekiti and worked in Ekiti State, how wold you rate the terrain and the people?
Ekiti is the “Fountain of Knowledge”. From the stories we’ve heard about Ekiti, not even before my arrival, we had adopted parallels here and there. People thought that it would be war in the state. But notwithstanding, I did my youth service in Ekiti (then in Ondo State) in 1980. I served in Ilejemeje Community Secondary School. So, in 1980/1981, I was in Ekiti State and I found that the people are peaceful. Apart from politics, Ekiti is a peaceful environment. But when it comes to politics, you cannot take it away from them.
There is no way perhaps, you can rule out violence here and there because politics appears to be an industry but we are really surprised because at the initial problem we were there, the the polity was really tensed up. But we held our stakeholders meeting and the Inspector-General of Police was even around and was able to address them and appealed to everybody. He also held very serious meetings with senior citizens of the state and promised that level playing ground would be provided. At the end of the day, it went well.
So, I have to really thank Ekiti people because there is no way the Police Force can succeed without the tacit support of the members of the public. We have to thank Ekiti people because they were very orderly. On the day of the election, I was airborne traverssing the length and breadth of the state and particularly the restriction orde was obeyed and we have to thank them for complying with the rules, regulations and instructions of the security agencies.