Ahead of next Saturday’s presidential election, the Nigeria Police Force has withdrawn thousands of police officers, including those serving Very Important Persons in the country
Confirming the report, the Force spokesperson, ACP Frank Mba, noted that the withdrawal would affect all categories of VIPs, including heavyweight politicians across party lines, state commissioners, businessmen and individuals with police aides.
Mba said, “The withdrawal of policemen is going to cut across all borders, including politicians, party chairmen, state commissioners and businessmen. It will affect everyone that has policemen attached to them.”
The police spokesman explained that “there are two basic rationale for the withdrawal of policemen; One, we need all hands on deck for the purpose of securing the electoral process.”
“Number two, we also need to be proactive in ensuring that unscrupulous people do not hide under the cover of security or policemen providing security to create problems during the elections. These are some of the reasons we need to mop up as many policemen as possible,” he explained.
Media report has it that over 20,000 Special Protection Unit operatives of the force and riot policemen who serves prominent Nigerians would be recalled and deployed for election duties by police authorities.
“The Strategic Election Security Operational Plan is a big, complex operation requiring huge deployments; so, all hands must be on deck to ensure its success. The number of men to be recalled from private security duties could be huge, maybe as high as 35,000 or more,” a security source stated.
The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had also made reference to the development during a meeting with Counter-Terrorism Unit and SPU commanders at the force headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
The IGP noted that the withdrawn operatives would provide security for local and international election observers, escort sensitive electoral materials and also protect critical national assets during the exercise.
“In order to ensure full mobilisation and deployment of personnel for these duties, we shall in the coming days prune down or order the withdrawal of SPU and CTU operatives that are currently on non-essential duties including those attached to certain categories of personalities,” he added.
Findings also revealed that some of the policemen would act as a reserve force that could be deployed for rapid response to crisis areas during the elections.