From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Ahead of the forthcoming 2019 general elections, a Nigeria-based group, CLEEN Foundation with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), has embarked on two days capacity building training for Police Officers in Rivers State, on the theme “Election Security Management” towards the elections.
The training which started on Tuesday, witnessed the participation of over 40 senior police officers from the Rivers State Police Command and is expected to continue today.
According to the group, aware of the enormous task expected of police in the general elections, there is need to enhance the capacity of officers who will be monitoring the process to ensure an effective security management during elections.
Speaking, Dr Benson Olugbuo, Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, stated that the purpose of the training is to equip and expose the officers on the international standard of security management in election, so as for them to discharge their duties effectively without complaints of unnecessary casualties in their area of respective posting.
Olugbuo who was represented by the group Project Manager, Ruth Olofin, said with the approval of police authority, the training simultaneously took place in all the geographical areas of the nation.
He noted the likelihood that parts of the country may witness crisis during the general elections, and therefore advised police officers who will be on election duty to be also prepared for any eventuality during the exercise.
He urged the participating officers to be more professional as their actions during the elections will determine their rate before the Nigerian people and international community.
He said: “Today, CLEEN Foundation is privileged to get the approval of police authority to train its officers on election security management for the 2019 general elections. We are aware of the enormous tasks expected of police in the general elections, and we are also mindful of the challenges facing the police which make it difficult for the officers and men of the force not to effectively deliver on their core mandate of protecting lives and properties.
“We wish to remind the police that the forthcoming general elections present an opportunity for Nigerians and the International community to measure and rate the performance of the Nigerian Police Force. And therefore we expect the police to be professional in handling the elections.
“As the police take the lead on election security, there is the fundamental need to enhance the skills and capacity of officers, to monitor the elections and ensure effective election management for the 2019 general elections.”
Olugbuo further stated that the vision of the training is to build the capacity of officers that will in turn consolidate the nation’s democracy.
“As we commence this training and we be staying together in learning for two days, let us remind ourselves, we are not only set out to achieve peace and security during elections but, also for the consolidation and deepening of our democracy.”
In her paper presentation titled, “Election Security Threat Assessment of Nigeria”, Mrs Ruth Olofin, noted that the group survey revealed that vote buying is the top electoral risk factors ahead of the 2019 elections.
She urged the officers to discourage the display of vote buying during the elections by electorates and politicians, adding that such action by the politicians trying to buy votes can trigger tension and generate violence at the polling centres.
In his goodwill massage, the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Barr Obo Effanga, said the commission under his watch will ensure a free, fair and credible elections in the state.
Represented by Barr Mark Usulor, Deputy Director, Head of Voter Education Unit of the Commission, Effanga assured that INEC in the state will be apolitical and will ensure a fair play for all the participating political parties in the elections.
He said the commission is fully prepared for the exercise, disclosing that the commission has recently concluded the training of electoral officers who are expected to train other ad hoc staff of INEC for the election process.
Other lectures delivered at the training include, “Securing the 2019 General Elections: Field Experience”, “Intelligence-led Policing and Respect for Human Rights by Security Personnel on Election Duty”, all by SP Godwin Onah.