Claim: Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP spokesperson, on February 6 2019 said that the redeployment of police officers so close to the elections is politically tainted
Evidence: Shuffling and redeployment of senior police officers including Deputy Inspector Generals of Police, Assistant Inspector Generals of Police and Commissioners of Police days before an election is a not a new development in Nigeria. Although we cannot ascertain the motive for this action, it has come to be seen as a normal routine in the security sector
Conclusion: INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE
On February 6, 2019, the Police Service Commission approved the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police and redeployed 55 senior officers including the Assistant Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police.
Few hours after this development, counter reactions were generated from several political stalwarts including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus and the coalition of political parties. They alleged that it is an avenue for rigging the upcoming general elections.
At a press conference held in Abuja on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, the Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) said that the redeployment was politically tainted. Speaking on behalf of the coalition, the spokesperson, Imo Ugochinyere, said:
”The entire security architecture of the elections has been put in grave danger and the people given the responsibility to provide security for lives and property are the same set of people jeopardising the security of the country.
“The Acting Inspector General is set to, among other politically tainted postings, announce the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, a former CSO to Bola Tinubu, as the Kwara State CP.
“The APC wants to post Egbetokun to Kwara to ensure that votes do not count in the state and that Senator Bukola Saraki and the PDP must not win in Kwara even if the people vote for them”
VERIFYING THE CLAIM:
It is worth mentioning that these allegations are quite tricky to fact-check. For starters, the statement that “the entire security architecture has been put in grave danger” is an opinion and such a bogus claim that cannot be fact-checked. Also, the claim that Egbetokun, former CSO to APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu was redeployed “to ensure that votes do not count in Kwara State” hinges on intent which is almost impossible to prove.
Nevertheless, we still decided to check if there have been prior cases of redeployment close to elections and probably draw inferences from such political behaviour. Our historical checks show that redeployment of police has become a tradition ever since 2011 when Hafiz Ringim on April 1, which was initially 24 hours to the election (before the National Assembly elections were shifted to April 9), announced the redeployment of 37 Commissioners of police (in all the 36 States of the Federation including the FCT) and 6 Deputy Inspector Generals of Police.
In 2015, 11 days to the 2015 general elections (which later turned to 53 days after INEC shifted the planned February 14 presidential election to March 28), Suleiman Abba redeployed 17 Senior Police officers including 6 Deputy Inspector Generals, 5 Assistant Inspector Generals of Police affecting the Northern region and 6 Commissioners of Police affecting Rivers, Enugu, Anambra, Benue and Katsina State Commands as well as the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
THE REDEPLOYMENT EXTENDS BEYOND GENERAL ELECTIONS
Less than 24 hours to the April 25th 2015 re-run election in 25 April in Abia, Imo, Delta and Taraba States, Solomon Arase who was the then Acting Inspector General of Police, ordered a redeployment of 1 Deputy Inspector General, 4 Assistant Inspector Generals and 7 Commissioners of Police for the re-run election in the States where there were inconclusive elections.
Off-cycle elections – the elections conducted outside the general ones – that happened within 2015 and 2019 when Ibrahim Idris was the Inspector General of Police, there were also redeployments. These occurred during the 2016 Edo Gubernatorial Election and 2017 Anambra Gubernatorial Election where the Commissioners of Police were removed and redeployed 23 days and 4 days to the elections respectively.
The latest redeployment made in 2019 which is less than 10 days to the election involves 18 Assistant Inspector Generals and 28 Commissioners of Police and affects 8 States in Nigeria and excluding only Yobe, Borno, Ogun, Benue, Kaduna, Ekiti, Rivers States and FCT.
While, it cannot be proven that the redeployment of senior police officers is a politically tainted move, we can, however, see that the redeployments have become a tradition in the security sector and there has not been any direct link of this action to influencing election results.