MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Frank Mba, officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies have been commended for the monumental security mileage achieved in the just concluded off cycle governorship election which held on Saturday November 11, 2023 in Imo State.
The commendation came from a cross-section of Imo State residents who spoke with Atlanticnewsonline following the release of the election result and declaration of a winner. Those who spoke were particularly happy that the skepticism that surrounded the election in Imo State where criminal elements masquerading as unknown gunmen, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB), Eastern Security Network (ESN) and others have been holding sway even before the election, became a nullity, courtesy of the combined efforts of the various security agencies.
A private security practitioner, Mr. Boyson Nwosu said he was initially scared with the threat of IPoB through social media publication few days to the election wherein it promised to go after staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who
would try to manipulate the election. According to him, “those of us residing and working in Imo State do not take any threat from IPoB with levity as they could go to any length to unleash violence.”
It is interesting to note that the Nigeria Police Force as the lead agency in maintaining internal security, law and order actually took the lead in ensuring that the election was conducted under a peaceful atmosphere that defied all the fears and anxiety that had pre-dated the election. Days before the election, the average Imo State resident was not quite sure of what would play out on the election day given the history of electoral violence in previous elections in Nigeria.
Remarkably, the assurances given by the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun that the police under his leadership would not watch and see lawlessness permeate in the nooks and cranny of the country; became actualized during the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Imo State. For this reason, a good number of Imo State citizens have expressed satisfaction with the role played by the police and other security agencies.
Like Mr. Nwosu, another resident, Mrs. Ifeoma Uzowulu told Atlanticnewsonline that the role played by the police in particular and other security agencies prior and during the Imo election had given her some hope that with the security forces in Nigeria, there could be unity across the states of the federation contrary to perception in some quarters that Nigerians are divided along ethnic and religious lines. She blamed the politicians who occasionally use the police and other agencies to oppress the masses for what she described as their selfish political ambition.
A retired military officer who chose to remain anonymous paid tribute to IGP Kayode Egbetokun and heads of other security agencies for the massive pre-election deployments of personnel and the implementation of all security arrangements. The officer was also satisfied with the way and manner the police in particular reached out to all stakeholders where consultative meetings with traditional rulers, political party leaders and other stakeholders were held with Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, human rights organisations and other critical stakeholders seen as key actors to work towards the success of the election.
The anonymous retired military officer and the private security practitioner Boyson Nwosu particularly commended the role played by the coordinating Deputy Inspector General of Police, (DIG), Frank Mba who was on ground to coordinate and implement all security arrangements. DIG Mba had personally conducted both land and aerial patrols across states in the South East with over 25,000 police personnel deployed across the nooks and crannies of Imo State. This is in addition to the presence of Military and other security agencies.
There was a high level of police mobilization in almost all the communities in the state under the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). There was constant patrol, helicopter hovering over almost all the communities and the synergy among the
various security agencies was manifest as officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigerian Customs Service etc, collaborated with the police, military and other agencies to identify black spots, search for illegal firearms and weapons, illegal drugs etc.
Adequate security arrangement for the protection of both local and international observers, media team and others was also in place and interestingly, there was no ugly incident as the security agents were equal to the task.
Few days to the off cycle election which also held same day in Bayelsa and Kogi States, the Inspector General of Police had openly announced the provision of sophisticated weapons like Armoured Personnel Carrier
(APC), Water Canon, Trucks, pick-up vehicles and all these were released by the IGP to boost operational capability of the police during the election just as Intelligence management was top notch.