President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Nigerian police to evolve measures in tackling the nation’s internal security threats as they may impact negatively on the peaceful conduct of the 2023 elections.
Mr Buhari gave the charge on Monday when he declared open a three-day retreat for senior police officers in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The theme of the conference was “The Imperative of a Nigerian Police Strategy Plan for Peaceful Elections.”
The president, who reiterated his commitments to democratic values and strong democratic institutions, also charged the police to remain apolitical, firm and loyal to the nation’s political values.
According to him, no nation advances its democracy and attains its socioeconomic and developmental growth without an effective policing system.
Mr Buhari said his administration had prioritised critical reforms in the Nigeria Police Force to effectively review the internal security and democratic governance mandate.
He said he assented to the Nigerian Trust Fund Bill to provide a legal framework for an enhanced funding regime for the force.
The president added that he assented to the Nigeria Police Force Academy Bill to grant statutory recognition for the institution to attain its futuristic manpower development programmes.
“I also approved a new and befitting salary and welfare regime that align the remuneration of police personnel with the state’s critical functions while also approved and released fund to recruit 10,000 police constables annually to address the wide manpower gap in the force.
“In addition, I approved the adoption of the community policing model as an internal security strategy of the country.
“As part of the re-engineering programme of the force, the federal government is currently working with some development partners towards strengthening the police reform agenda.
“My desire is to restore the primacy of the police force in building public trust and professionalism.
“My vision is also to bequeath to the nation a police force that is not only modernised but well-funded, suitably equipped, and appropriately re-orientated to effectively police our democracy and guarantee a stable internal security order under a citizen-led, technology-driven rule of law guided by intelligence-based policing,”.
Mr Buhari commended the professionalism exhibited by the police’s internal operational standards as reflected in the Edo, Anambra and Osun States elections.
He, therefore, tasked the Inspector-General of Police to sustain his leadership standards to guarantee a level playing field and secure public space for the citizens to freely exercise their franchise.
He said the outcome of the elections should bear the true reflection of the people’s choices.
In his welcome remarks, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo expressed delight that the state emerged as the preferred destination and host for such a security event.
“There is no doubt in my mind that hosting these events will help to reassure both residents and visitors that Imo State is safe again for businesses and tourism.
“I believe that the presence of the top bars of the police and other security forces in the state will help fortify our security and safety as a people,” he said.
Mr Uzodimma lauded the cordial relationship between his administration and security agencies as well as the containment of insecurity in the state.
He promised to remain an advocate of a free, fair and credible election but advised against violence or heating up the polity.
The governor urged the conference to find lasting solutions to the threats that election losers pose to the peace of the country.
He suggested that the strategic plans of the conference should include a recommendation that all the candidates in the elections must undertake an oath to denounce violence.
“They should also commit and sign an undertaken that all disputes over election results can only be challenged through court processes and that the parties to the disputes must be bound by the process,” he suggested.
He noted that post-election violence contributed to a major threat to the nation’s democracy.
He appealed to the government and private sectors to support the police, noting that the protection of lives and property should be a concern of all.
“Assist them with operational, communication, logistics and technologies needed for greater policing efficiency,” he appealed.
He reiterated his unflinching support to the security agencies to make their job easier, safer and more efficient in the state.
Also speaking, the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba, commended Mr Buhari for his support and approval of all his requests in ensuring the safety of lives and property in the country.
Mr Baba noted that the retreat would enable participants to discuss issues relating to the role of the police and internal security process towards ensuring a peaceful, secure, free, fair and credible 2023 general elections.
In his remarks, the Chief of Defense Staff, Lucky Irabor, pledged to give greater support to the Nigeria Police in tackling internal security in the country, especially during the 2023 general elections.
Also speaking, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, urged the leadership of the Nigeria Police to see the persistent call for the creation of state police as a persuasive desire for the federating units to enjoy more robust policing.
Dignitaries that attended the opening event included Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, service chiefs, heads of anti-graft agencies, INEC officials, retired DIGs, AIGs, I-Gs, as well as traditional rulers, among others.