Stakeholders in the security sector have called for the mainstreaming of private security guards for election duties to assist in providing adequate security as a means to ensure order and help curb election related violence at the polling units.
They made the call on Friday in Abuja,during the national stakeholders forum and public presentation of monitoring and assessment of private security service during the 2023 election in Nigeria.
The assessment is part of the Private Security and Elections in Nigeria Project implemented by African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), in collaboration with Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN) in partnership with the Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance (DCAF), Switzerland and International Code of Conduct Association (ICOCA), Switzerland with funding support from the UK FCDO.
Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi said the private security guards who are well trained could assist the country in conducting free, fair and credible elections if assigned.
Audi, represented by the Deputy commandant, Private Guard Companies Oyesanya Wasiu Sanya said, shortage of government’s security personnel as a result of insecurity across the country necessitated the call for the drafting of private security guards into the election security architecture.
“The mainstreaming of the private security into the Nigerian electoral process will be a welcome development as they came into existence due to the gap for policing the citizen. Government paid agencies cannot do all, the gap is what private agencies will fill in and using them during election will provide enough security.
“There is no need to be afraid that they will be compromised as the private companies go through series of scrutiny before they are licensed and they are repercussions if they do,” he added.
On his part the representative from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) Stephen Okwundu, reiterated the imbalance of the security architecture brought the involvement of private security sector promising, “we will make a report so that necessary actions will be considered and taken to make this possible.”
Speaking further he explained that, “The 2022 electoral act, section 91 provides that, the police is the lead agency in internal security and election security management,as such the Commissioner of Police is at liberty to provide security from the moment the election is declared open, starting from pre election phase.
“This is by extension, the army,NSCDC and every other security agencies.This section also apportion roles to other agencies of which the private security are already part of all that need to be done is to go further and mainstream, which is a gradual process, and may not be achieved immediately.
“This is stated so that we may not be disappointed if the idea do not materialise within a particular time frame.
“We have all realised that this is a duty to increase the ratio of security to civilian. So we will continue to seek ways on how to mainstream and increase the participation of these private security personnel in ways that are not inimical to the laws already stated that are guiding our election practice.”
In the same view, Vice President of ALPSPN Clement Anala noted the need to be incorporated into the mainstream security architecture for positive output so that they will be a better synergy, adding “We have a whole lot of security guards within the scope of the 36 states.”
Also, Director of Security INEC, Nduh Sam adviced that, one way the private security sector can achieve their aim is by registering as body corporate with the commission as observers. According to him, that will be the easiest way the commission can engage with association of private guards company.
Founder/ Chief Executive Officer AFRILAW Okereke Chinwike speaking on the assessment of the report disclosed that, the research was carried out in ten states to ascertain the level of importance of the private security guards and engage in the right arguement.
Chinwike said, “This report have given us an understanding of what is happening and what can be done to improve election and engage the private security guard.
“This is a call to incorporate them, as it is essential and important to involve them during the election, hence this research, which is based on the extent to which thier services are used and needed.Many of them are already working for the commission but not yet official.
“Our arguement is that let them be included as officials in the election process to help in manning security, give them targeted training and then we will have election that the security is improved.”