I have no fear over Anambra election-Ex-IGP, Okiro

Posted by News Express | 6 November 2021 | 599 times

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•Sir Mike Okiro


As Anambra decides today, former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro who distinguished himself in the career with exceptional records in an interview with News Express said he does not see any security challenge with the poll even though fear pervades the atmosphere.

Okiro who also served as Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), said the Police is equal to the task of maintaining law and order in Anambra during the election. Excerpts

By JOHN NWOKOCHA, Managing Editor

Tell us form your experience as a former Inspector-General of Police do you have any fear over Anambra state governorship election as escalating insecurity in the state has led the police to massive deployment of personnel (about 24 000) for just one state election
due to insecurity police deploy about 24 000 personnel.

Talking about Anambra election I have no doubt in my mind that the police, supported by other security agencies, because the police is the key factor in security in this country, I have no fear, I have no doubt, I have no fear of any ripples. Of course, some people can cause problems but the police and other security agencies will be able to handle the situation adequately and effectively. So I have no fear at all.

The Anambra election is just one election out of 36 states including Abuja on a particular day in Nigeria, so you have enough manpower for the police including other security agencies to maintain law and order and ensure that people who want to come and vote without any let or hindrance. It’s not like a situation where you have elections in the whole country the police would be so overstretched and they would not be able to contain or provide security for every polling unit and every collection centre.

But now it’s only one state in the whole federation I believe the police can do it.
Don’t you think the mass deployment of police men and other security agents can overwhelm the electorate or have capacity to worsen voter apathy? Rather than use heavy presence of security operatives do you think intelligence strategy should not have been a superior option

The issue voter turn out, I can’t predict because I am not a registered voter in Anambra neither a voter nor a contestant in Anambra. What I am saying is that the police will do their job. And the police do not vote in an election. They are there to provide security and ensure that people who have come out to vote are given protection. But that doesn’t mean they will force somebody to come out and vote. If you are at home police cannot come to your house and carry you to come out and vote. What police can do is to provide adequate security for everybody who wants to come out and vote. So I think from what I heard of the number of personnel deployed by the IG anybody who wants to come and vote should not have fear. They have enough protection to come and vote.  

But there is fear that the police men may get so involved intimidate the voters and allowed themselves to be used to favour one party over another and  it will have implications on voter turn out.

They cannot be used to favour any party. By the nature of the police job, we are trained to be fair,
just and protect the territorial integrity of this country Nigeria. So we are trained to protect the Constitution and the laws of this country. So if the police do anything that is unlawful it is against
the law. They cannot abuse the laws they are protecting.

Are you saying that the police will be neutral in the election?
Of course I believe that. And they know it that they should be neutral.

But experts fault the security arrangement for Anambra election. Do think there is a missing link in the strategy?

The only missing link I can talk about is lack of funding, lack of equipment, lack of technical know- how. You see we are in a modern society. The police is no longer the police of 1940s, 50s and 60s in
Nigeria. When we were young we used to see policemen riding bicycle, carrying batten. But it is not so now, police have to move in fast vehicles well -armed with good gadgets, good communications gadgets to be ahead of the criminal himself. If the police is not well funded, not well equipped that is the missing link. They cannot achieve anything. And the terrorists, bandits, insurgents and criminals go to the internet, they use communications gadgets and they are far ahead. They use fast vehicles and sophisticated firearms so police must use something more than them to be able to ahead of them. That is the missing link.
But the issue of adequate funding for the police has been in public space for too long. Why has it not been addressed? Why is it still an issue today?
Well I can’t say. I am not the minister of finance neither am I in government to give reasons why the police is not well equipped. I don’t know what government has in their coffers. But the fact remains
that security has preponderance over other things you do. Because if you want even local investors, you must invest your money where it is secured. Before any foreign investor will come into the country he
must first find out the security situation of the country before investing his money.  It is something the government has to look into. It is true the government has other areas like agriculture, education
and so on, that government’s budget is taking care of. But security must be given a priority. Because, without security other things cannot work. So the idea of not funding the police boomerangs. At the end of the day there is no money to fun security and money cannot come in.

Are you therefore saying the government has not tackled insecurity adequately?

But I have given you an example. The police is not funded. You see insecurity is nothing new in the whole world. Nigeria is not set aside for what is happening in the whole world. There is general insecurity in the whole world. Nigeria is having its own share of the general insecurity in the whole world. You see when I was the IG I created in the police Anti-terrorism Squad. Why did I do that?  People shout at me. Why did I create anti-terrorism squad, that there is no terrorism in Nigeria. That I was giving Nigeria a bad name, because people will think there is terrorism in Nigeria. But I was thinking ahead. I looked at the world’s history I have seen that insecurity is getting the upper hand. And I looked at the countries surrounding Nigeria in West Africa have insecurity issues, so the best thing to do was to
take a proactive action. Get ready and prepare for it. Unfortunately people did not buy my idea. I have trained men in South Africa, Spain even in Egypt, off all places as at that time have a history of
terrorism and Israel. But government could not equip them. So where are we now?
Do you have any regrets?
I have regrets of course. I am a Nigerian. An idea that I brought was botched because somebody said I was bringing anti-squad police in Nigeria. And that there is no terrorism in Nigeria. Where are we now.
If after I have left the office as a retired IG and other IGs after me had continued from where I stopped and the governments had listened to them insecurity would have been nipped in the bud.  I am sad about it. I am a Nigerian. I am not happy about insecurity in this country.

So how do you relax, if insecurity in the country is causing you such worry at your retirement?
Well I am a retiree and I am a Nigerian. I keep myself busy writing books. As you can see (Shows the Reporter a stack of documents, envelopes being sorted out by his domestic staff) my boys are busy, I just finished writing a book. Sometimes I get one or two Kobo.

If this was a general election would the police have enough manpower
for the whole country?
I don’t think the police can talk of lack of manpower in an election in one state like Anambra. I’m told the police have close 500,000 personnel now. The police have enough manpower. If the election is for
the whole federation on the same day it will be a different ball game.
Bur right now it is only one election, one state and one day. The police is equal to the task.

Source: News Express

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