By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
Piqued by the shortcomings recorded in the 2019 General Election, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and some Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations have reviewed the challenges of election policing during the period, with a view to proffer ways and means to have substantial improvement during the 2023 election.
The Commission has also pledged to ensure that Police Officers found wanting during the 2019 General Elections will be prosecuted.
This was contained in a release made available to journalists at the weekend by Ikechukwu Ani, Head, Press and Public Relations of the Commission.
According to the release, the Commission will also officially write to the Acting Inspector-General of Police on the status of Police offenders during the elections with a view to ensuring that they are prosecuted.
The plan between the Commission and the Human Rights Organizations was reached during a virtual meeting held on Thursday,, stated the release.
The Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations who participated in the meeting were the CLEEN Foundation represented by its Executive Director, Dr. Benson Olugbo and the Situation Room, represented by Agianpe Ashanga and Akwu Ogbuadu of Policy and Advocacy Centre, PLAAC.
Speaking at the Virtual Meeting, the Chairman of the Commission’s Fact Finding Team on Election Policing in the 2019 General Elections and Honourable Commissioner in the Commission, Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi ,a retired Justice of the Supreme Court said the Commission was poised to give the nation a much more improved election policing during the 2023 General Elections.
Justice Ogunbiyi said there was need to look into the pitfalls of the 2019 election policing in order to devise strategies for an improvement during the next General Elections. He said the Commission will also be asking the acting Inspector General of Police to conclude investigations on the cases of Nigerians who undermined the electoral process during the 2019 General Elections and hand over the files to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the body backed by law to prosecute election offenders.
She noted that the Commission will play its required part in ensuring that the Police men on election duties during the 2023 General elections commit themselves to the rules of engagement.
Bar. Rommy Mom, Honourable Commissioner in the Commission, representing the Non Governmental Human Rights Organizations and Babatunde Dada, Deputy Director and legal Adviser to the Commission were the other members of the fact finding panel at the meeting. Bar. Mom expressed delight that the Commission and the Human Rights Bodies are coming together to forge a common front in the interest of a better Nigeria. He noted that the Commission will sustain this initiative and will ensure that it positively affects election policing during the 2023 General Elections.
Participants at the Meeting had insisted that election offenders during the 2019 General Elections must be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others during the 2023 elections. They noted that the acting Inspector General of Police should hand over files of cases of these offenders to INEC for prosecution.
The Commission had earlier called and received memoranda on the pitfalls of election policing in 2019 and recommendations for better policing in 2023 from Nigerians and other stakeholders on election security.