Sheriff Mahmud Ismail
The African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have commenced joint efforts in pursuit of a transparent and acceptable outcome that will reflect the will of the people and one that supports a smooth, peaceful transition.
This morning the joint ECOWAS/AU Preventive Diplomacy Team met with the Inspector -General of Police (IGP) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Usman Alkali Baba, at the Louis Edet House, Police Headquartres in the Federal Territory Capital, Abuja. They urged the police to remain professional and to improve on their operational coverage. Head of Mission (HoM) of the AU Elections Observer Mission (AUEOM), former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, while commending the police on their role so far, he emphasized the imperative of preventing violence. Kenyatta also urged the police to continue to execute their duties professionally within the rule of law.
“The worst thing that could happen to all of us in the continent is for violence to erupt during the course of these elections,” Kenyatta said.
Re-echoing President Kenyatta’s sentiments of commendation of the Nigerian Police’s hard work, the Head of Mission (HoM) of the ECOWAS Elections Observer Mission (EOM), former Sierra Leonean President Koroma, who is heading his seventh elections observation mission noted that the elections were not over until a winner is declared. President Koroma therefore implored the Nigeria Police to sustain their professionalism, increase their presence and expand their coverage.
The ECOWAS HoM also assured of ECOWAS’s commitment to remain engaged until a smooth and peaceful transition was attained.
The IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, expressed deep appreciation for the visit by such ‘honored men of Africa’ and underscored that from the onset theirs has been to provide a level playing field and secured environment for both parties and electorates. The IGP explained that in pursuit of this objective, the police underwent special training on election management. He also informed that, to bolster the strength of the police in numbers, logistics, intelligence, and capacity, they had to synergize their operations with other members of the security sector including the armed forces and the civil defense force.
We successfully deployed our men and women to the over 700,000 polling units across the country and our collaborative efforts helped in checkmating several incidents.
IGP Baba further highlighted the setbacks of late opening, failure of technology, high assurances of a watertight system especially relating to electronic transfer of results, as sources of anxiety, and tensions. The AU/ECOWAS HoMs and the IGP urged Nigerians to exercise restraint, eschew violence and embrace peace.