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Platinum Post Roundtable :Al-Mustapha raises fresh fears on 2023 polls, Ganduje, Ortom call for vigilance (+PHOTOS)

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 Platinum Post Roundtable Al Mustapha raises fresh fears on 2023 polls Ganduje Ortom call for vigilance PHOTOS

For months, officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Department of State Service (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force, among others have dismissed any trace of specific or credible threat to 2023 general elections.

But increasingly, some eminent Nigerians have voiced fears about the heightened domestic political tensions that have gripped much of the country, and about how that could play out on election day going by the level of restiveness in the country.

With just three months to the polls, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to late Head of state, Sani Abacha, has now expressed fears that the massive shipment of arms and hard drugs into the country by non-state actors could ignite violence and disrupt the elections.

Al-Mustapha, a presidential candidate of the Action Alliance, spoke at the maiden edition of Platinum Post Annual Roundtable on Tuesday in Abuja,

READ ALSO :Kano Municipal LG chairman, Alfindiki, visits PlatinumPost headquarters, Abuja 

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Cross-section of participants at the roundtable

Speaking on the theme of the roundtable discussion, ‘Contemporary Security Challenges and Their Effects on 2023 General Elections”, the outspoken retired military officer, said Nigerians should sleep with only one eye closed considering the level of illegal arms in circulation.

His words : “As of today, all the agencies in Nigeria and I’m sure the representative of the Inspector General of Police, if he is aware of what I’m going to talk about, new discoveries of movements of drugs, arms, are coming into Nigeria through numerous borders and in large quantities. I’m talking of now as I speak. But I’m sure the society is not aware.

“The question is at whose instance are these new weapons coming in? Why the increase? Who are the vendors? Who have sent for it? Is it politicians? What is the plan, can election hold? Has friction started between political parties and candidates and their supporters?

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“The question is who is sending the arms? To reinforce the insurgency or to reinforce the political side of it?

“This is as at now the major issue in the laboratory of national security management of Nigeria, as at now that I talked to you.”

Expressing the fear that the proliferation of weapons in the country might mar the general elections, he said those entrusted with the protection of lives and properties have not done enough since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

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But Kano state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who chaired the occasion, said citizens of the country have a role to play by ensuring merchants of violence are not allowed to have their way during the elections.

The governor stressed the need to ensure safety and security of voters, election personnel, materials, candidates, party agents, observers, the media practitioners during the electioneering process.

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Ganduje, who was represented by his acting Chief of Staff and Kano State Head of Service, Usman Mohammed, called on the electorate to eschew acts of violence and other negative tendencies that could mar the conduct of the 2023 general elections while at the same time remain watchful to report anything capable of instigating violence to relevant security bodies.

On the theme of the roundtable discussions, Ganduje said : “The importance of the topic in relation to the nation’s current security situation in the face of an election cannot be over emphasized. And more so, my state, Kano is among states in the federation, and particularly in the North that have had one security challenge or the other, which we have, with the will of God the Almighty, been able to surmount. Kano is now one of the most peaceful states in the federation.

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“Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, insecurity is one of the biggest challenges facing the conduct of the 2023 general elections. Ensuring the safety and security of voters, election personnel, materials, candidates, party agents, observers, the media and transporters etc is paramount.

“The responsibility has become more challenging in the context of the current asymmetric security situation in the country. With about a few months until the next general elections, there is no better time for proactive measures than now to ensure that the nation is secure enough for elections to be held across the nooks and crannies of the country.

“However, despite the severity of the security challenges facing next year’s polls, I believe that the relevant security agencies have the potency to ensure that the process is made peaceful and secure by synergizing effectively, review the operational strategies and optimally deploy all their operational assets towards addressing current and evolving general security threats ahead of the elections.”

On his part, Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, alleged that Permanent Voters Cards are already in wrong hands in the country and called on INEC to make provision for over 2 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the state.

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Represented by Professor Magdalene Dura, Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ortom decried a development where “illegal migrants who crossed our borders with arms are also going to vote to decide who becomes President. There is need for government to ensure credibility of the electoral process.”

“There is lack of equity and justice in Nigeria. INEC needs to have comprehensive data on the IDPS, so that they can create Polling Units for IDPs. Is it not possible for INEC to ensure that those displaced return to their homes to vote? INEC must open discussions with IDPs to know what they need, ” the governor said.

Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Platinum Post, Edwin Olofu, who expressed delight over the robust discussions at the event, said the roundtable aimed at ensuring 2023 elections are devoid of violence.

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He said : “Going by the campaigns and debates on issues relating to the governance of the country by candidates of the leading political parties, there is no doubt that the election is potentially going to be the most keenly contested exercise in Nigeria’s political history.

“As members of the fourth estate of the realm, it is incumbent on us to mobilise the citizenry to prove the naysayers who are already instilling fears in the minds of the electorates that the election could be marred due to spate of violent crimes in parts of the country.

“The objective of the roundtable is to find answers to some nagging questions posed by the current security situation in the country and mobilise the electorate to exercise their franchise without let or hindrance.

“This roundtable highlights the need for government to sensitise the public on the power of voting, and the need to eschew violent conduct, before, during, and after the polls through effective media campaigns.”

The event, during a panel discussion, brought to the fore possible threats to the elections and the best way to handle them.

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The panelists include the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, represented by a Commissioner of Police-Kene Onwuemelie, Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Dr Ahmed Audi, who was also represented by a senior officer, Head of Transparency International, Nigeria, Auwal Rafsanjani and Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT chapter, Emmanuel Ogbeche.

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