Less than eleven (11) days to the general election, the Federal Government (FG), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been urged by African Law Foundation(AFRILAW) a Non-Governmental Organization, to recognize and ensure the participation of private security companies in the electoral processes.
The Foundation made the call on Wednesday, in Abuja at a national stakeholders forum on private security and 2023 election, organized in collaboration with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in partnership with International Code of Conduct Association (ICOCA), funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer AFRILAW Okereke Chinwike said, the use of private security companies in the electoral processes will aid conventional security agencies as they are currently overwhelmed with the insecurity challenges bedeviling the country.
Chinwike noted that although the sector has always helped out in the manning of security in an informal way, an official engagement will go a long way in the concerted efforts made by government to ensure adequate security in the nation.
“As Nigeria set for the general elections, holding credible polls in an environment that guarantees the security of voters and INEC personnel has become a major challenge.
“Elections security is a defining factor in Nigeria’s electoral process, as elections have continued to be characterized by brazen acts of insecurity recorded across the geo-political zones.
“Considering the enormous violence and security challenges we always have during elections, it has become very imperative that the federal government and INEC and other election stakeholders should recognize, support and ensure the full and active participation of the private security companies.
“We needed to make the awareness to election security stakeholders, that they did not consider the use of private security who are the largest of all in the sector. We do not want to miss the opportunity to bring the issue to the front burner to make them understand what we are missing,Nigeria cannot afford to leave them behind in active engagement in election security.”
The Commandant General, NSCDC, Ahmed Audi for his part, reiterated the need for the inclusion of the private security companies in the electoral processes adding,the sector has been able to effectively play the assigned role as spelt in the private guard company act.
Audi, Represented by Assistant Commandant General Private Guard Company NSCDC, Ferdinand Esiegbu
disclosed that, the industry have been prepared to be one that can be relied on as they have from time partake in the process although not officially.
He said, “Private security companies have been playing vital role in the security of election processes, apart from being engaged in guarding critical assets during election period,they have been out giving informations in nooks and crannies of this nation, this has been used in intelligence operation which have led to the prevention of many orchestrated crime.
“If assigned, the sector can assist in the conduct of free, fair and credible election, this is as the regular security agencies are not enough, they cannot mann all the polling booths and provide security needed, that is why there should be more hands drawn from the pool of already existing structures.”
In the same vein, National President Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN), Chris Adigwu stressed, the sector has been an integral part of security architecture in the country with personnel working in every ward in local government areas.
Adigwu stated that, “Our industry players bring with them wealth of expertise, experience and resources that can help to maintain order and prevent electoral violence, and provide critical support to the existing security forces.
“The 2023 general elections represent an opportunity for the country to demonstrate it’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law, the involvement of private security services can play a critical role in achieving these objectives,” he said.