RESOLUTIONS REACHED AT THE CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH SECURITY AGENCIES IN LAGOS STATE ON PRIORITIZING ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUES DURING THE UPCOMING 2023 ELECTIONS IN LAGOS STATE: THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY AGENCIES ORGANIZED BY THE CENTRE FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION AND OPEN LEADERSHIP (CACOL) IN COLLABORATION WITH CIVIL SOCIETY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CENTRE (CISLAC) HELD AT RIGHTS HOUSE, 43, ADENIYI JONES AVENUE, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS STATE ON WEDNESDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER, 2022.
The consultative meeting with representatives of security agencies was organized to dialogue with the representatives of security agencies in Lagos State on prioritizing Anti-Corruption and Accountability issues during the upcoming 2023 General Elections in Lagos State.
Those invited were representatives of various security agencies among who are the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Army, the Nigeria Air Force, the Nigeria Navy, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Nigeria Customs, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Department of State Security Services, Federal Road Safety Corps, Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps and some Media Organizations.
The meeting started with the introduction of participants and opening remarks by Tola Oresanwo, CACOL’s Director of Programmes. There was also a paper presentation, by Debo Adeniran, The Chairman of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL). He highlighted the needs for the security agencies to collaborate and avoid inter agencies rivalry as the nation prepares for the forthcoming general election in 2023.
It was observed during the meeting that:
1) Safety and security of persons and properties is important for the conduct of free and fair elections.
2) Electoral violence has become a recurrent decimal anytime there is general election since 1999 till date.
3) Security is without doubt a key ingredient for a violence free election and for the process to be perceived as effective.
4) Since 1999, security personnel of the various agencies have been mobilized to provide security during elections.
5) Though the police, being the primary civil force are largely responsible for the election duties. The increasing involvement of various security agencies in the election duty is closely attributed to the high incidence and threat of violence at stages of the electoral process.
6) The deployment of various security personnel during elections has in many cases, been associated with irregularities by incumbent authorities such as intimidation, electoral fraud, collusion with politicians to undermine free and fair elections and incompetence in handling problems at polling stations.
After discussions and deliberations with the representatives of the agencies, the participants made the following recommendations:
Effective security during elections should not be equated with mere physical presence of security agents. It includes the presence of security agencies, and also their professional roles in terms of being impartial, protecting all political actors and voters and protection of electoral materials, venues, counting centres and prevention of violence during all the phases of the elections.
Prior to deployment of security agents – before, during and after election – there must be proper briefings on roles and responsibilities.
Security deployment must also be professionally executed to curb compromise by erring security officials.
Security agents must be alive to their responsibilities in ensuring the safety and security of INEC officials, INEC infrastructures, voters and election observers, during and after elections.
Law enforcement officials on election duty should ensure that electoral offences published by INEC are either prevented or controlled or do not take place on election days. These offences range from canvassing for votes; persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate or not to vote at all at the election; shouting slogans concerning the election; being in possession of any acid, offensive weapon or missile or wearing any dress or having facial or other decorations which in many events is calculated to intimidate voters; loitering without lawful excuse after voting or after being refused to vote; to the offence of voting or attempting to vote, when one’s name is not in the register of voters; among others.
The curricula for the training of the police at all levels should include modules on democracy, elections, political parties and constitutional/statutory provisions on elections.
The independence of the police force should be guaranteed by strengthening its autonomy from the control of the government of the day, the police force should be strengthened in areas of communication, weaponry and transportation for effective mobilization, deployment and enhanced performance.
Inter/intra agencies rivalry while performing election duties should not be encouraged rather all security agencies should collaborate and see themselves as partners in progress working to achieve a common goal.
Security agencies should investigate pre and post-election violence, and bring perpetrators to book. This will go a long way to improve participation in the elections and serve as deterrent to others.
The media should mount pressure on security agencies to be more responsible, accountable and transparent in security provisioning especially during electioneering period.
Centre For Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL)