The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba has said that some separatist agitators under the aegis of Oduduwa Nation are amassing weapons in an attempt to disrupt the February 25 and March 11 general elections in the South-West geopolitical zone.
The IGP disclosed this during a meeting with strategic police managers at the Force Headquarters in Abuja on Monday.
He also lamented that small arms and light weapons are being trafficked to advance political violence, political extremism and intolerance, while cyberbullying for political ends is on the rise daily.
Secessionist agitation gained prominence in the South-West geopolitical zone mid-2021. The agitation was champion by Yoruba Nation campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
However, the agitation slowed down with the raid of Igboho’s Ibadan residence by the Department of State Services on July 1, 2021. The agitator later escaped to Benin Republic where he was detained by the security agents in the francophone West African country. He was later released on bail but has not returned to Nigeria.
There have been pockets of agitations by Yoruba Nation protesters of late but the police have warned that no disturbance of public peace would be allowed.
Addressing police officers on Monday, the IGP said, “As you are aware, some crimes of national security importance could undermine our efforts towards entrenching a peaceful electioneering process, if not adequately curtailed.
“These include banditry and terrorism which has ravaged many communities in the North-west and North-Central with adverse effects on the economic and social well-being of the residents.
“Similarly, violent secessionist campaigns by IPOB/ESN members have been targeted at various symbols of democratic governance including INEC assets, police stations and personnel as well as other security agencies and Federal Government infrastructures, all in an effort to disrupt the 2023 general elections in the South East geopolitical zone.
“Other major crimes are the growing activities of the Oduduwa Nation Agitators who, from intelligence sources, have been attempting to amass weapons and mobilise other resources towards disrupting the peace, security and electoral process in the South-West geopolitical zone.”
The IGP charged the officers to conduct themselves “within the dictates of the Electoral Act and other laws”, while he assured Nigerians of the commitment of the police to a peaceful, secure, free, fair and credible elections.