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Nigeria Police Call for Peace, Respect of Election Officials

A police official walks past boxes with voting materials for distribution, at the Central Bank of Nigeria, ahead of Nigeria's Presidential elections, in Yola, Nigeria, Feb. 23, 2023.

The Nigerian Police Force is calling on voters to be respectful of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) tasked with administering Saturday’s watershed election.

The police service earlier this month announced the deployment of police personnel across the country in preparation for elections to select a new president, senators and representatives, as well as the gubernatorial elections in two weeks.

"I only appeal to our citizens that we should abide by the electoral laws. We should respect that INEC officials. Because basically our own duty on election day, while providing security, is to ensure that INEC facilities are protected, INEC officials are protected, our polling areas are protected," Adeleke Adeyinka, deputy inspector-general of police operations, told VOA.

"So, people should come out and exercise their franchise. We should be peaceful," Adeyinka added.

The police say they are working closely with related security services, including the armed forces and navy to ensure the vote is peaceful.

Usman Baba, Nigeria’s inspector-general of police, told reporters last week Nigeria would deploy more than 400,000 security personnel amid fears that Islamic extremists or secessionists could try to disrupt the vote.

The move comes as Nigerians have expressed concern about insecurity, which they say could prevent people from voting.

But police say they are continuing to educate citizens on election safety and ensure their protection before, during and after the vote.

Adeyinka assured Nigerians that all security personnel would act professionally in the interest of the people.

"I'm assuring Nigerians that they're going to be professional, they're going to act professionally. I'm not speaking on behalf of the police alone, I'm speaking on behalf of the entire security agencies that are going to assist us in taking part in this election," Adeyinka said.

Adeyinka said through primaries and now the election campaigns, Nigerian police have been able to give themselves a passing mark and would continue to provide protection through the voting period.

"We're going to ensure you a peaceful and credible election. They should cooperate with us to ensure this is done. That is what we need in our country,"Adeyinka said.

Some information in this report came from Associated Press.