Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.), the National Security Adviser, has claimed that there is plot to instigate violence by some individuals and groups during next month’s general elections.
Monguno made this known during a meeting with governors and security agencies in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said even though security agencies were working hard to ensure violence-free elections, recent intelligence reports had indicated that some people who were uncertain of their fate in the election were mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists, to cause widespread violence in many states of the federation.
The NSA warned that no pseudo- or quasi-security outfits such as vigilantes, under any guise, was allowed to participate in election security duties.
According to him, “Recent intelligence reports have indicated plans by some individuals and groups to instigate violence during and after the coming elections.
“Reports reaching me have revealed that some individuals that are uncertain of their fate in the elections are plotting to precipitate widespread violence aimed at scuttling the conduct of the polls.
“Their strategy is to cause crisis that could snowball into endless crises for the government and citizens.
“There are indications that these unscrupulous elements are already mobilising merchants of violence, including armed bandits and terrorists, to orchestrate violence during the election in several states of the federation.
“I will refrain from being specific on some of the plots that have been uncovered.
“Security agencies will spare no efforts in dealing appropriately with any act that can destabilise the nation and paint us collectively in a bad light.
“Accordingly, no individual or group’s ambition is worth the loss of life of any Nigerian or our national cohesion.
“In this regard, we owe Nigerians the duty to protect and preserve their lives and property, regardless of our individual or group aspirations.
“Government, through the appropriate institutional tools, is doing all within its powers to create a suitable environment for a peaceful election.
“The Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) under the co-chairmanship of myself and the INEC chairman, has been meeting periodically to ensure a coordinated approach to making the electorate safe during the elections.
“We are at present dotting all the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s to achieve this objective. The committee is meeting weekly at present and the frequency of meetings will increase as the elections draw nearer.”
Abdulazeez Yari, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Zamfara State, emphasised that governors were concerned about the proliferation of arms and ammunition, stressing that the spate of kidnapping across the country was worrisome.
He stated this while reading the communiqué issued at the end of the forum’s emergency meeting.
While commending security agencies and the Office of the National Security Adviser, Yari assured that governors – as chief security officers – in their respective states were committed to collaborating with security agencies to ensure that the coming elections were free, fair, and conducted in an environment conducive for peaceful elections.
“We seek stronger synergy between governors as the chief executive officers of their respective states and the heads of security agencies to strengthen pre-emptive measures of curbing election violence and other anti-social vices,” he said.
In all, 21 states were represented during the emergency meeting, including Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Kebbi, Bauchi, Osun, Kano, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Nasarawa, Cross River, Benue, Delta, Gombe, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Kwara, and Zamfara.
“Members of the NGF are committed to collaborating with all security agencies to ensure that the forthcoming elections are free, fair and are conducted in an environment conducive for peaceful election.
“Governors are, however, concerned about the proliferation of arms and ammunition, and the spate of kidnapping across the country.
“The forum recommends strong collaboration and intelligence sharing among security agencies in the country to ensure that all lives and property are protected, regardless of individual or group affiliations,” Yari said.
He said governors came into power through the ballot and would make sure the forthcoming elections are free, fair, and meet the international standard.
“President Muhammadu Buhari did not in any way take the election as a do or die affair, and he has promised that the election is going to be credible.
“We as his representatives in our various states are going to ensure that there is enabling environment.
“We will also ensure that we work with security agencies to keep their oath of office, do their work without fear or favour, and apprehend anybody who is trying to cause problem during the election,’’ Yari added.
He explained that the meeting was held following the last Council of State meeting where the NSA requested to brief the governors.
Monguno, earlier in his remarks, warned politicians against arming political thugs during the general election, saying that government would demonstrate zero tolerance to thuggery and illegal bearing of fire-arms.
He said the Nigeria Police Force had instructed all state commands to arrest anyone who bore fire-arms illegally or engage in acts of violence during the election.