The Commissioner, Lagos State Police Command, Idowu Owohunwa, has said Lagos State did not witness widespread electoral violence and neither did the State experience post-election disorder before, during and after the 2023 general election.
The Commissioner made the remarks on Friday in Ikeja, Lagos State during a meeting with his Strategic Commanders.
This was even as Owohunwa stated that Lagos State was widely acclaimed as the most “peaceful, secure, and credible electoral engagement, in comparative terms, in the recent history of the State.”
This statement, ironically came on the heels of many residents of Lagos insisting that political thugs attacked them at their polling booth, and many were disenfranchised because of this.
The thugs were accused of ethnic profiling of some voters and allegedly refused such voters to vote.
The thugs were also accused of the ballot box and ballot paper snatching.
The CP noted that although there were fears there might be violence, policemen in the state were able to navigate the challenges and ended up having a successful election.
Owohunwa said at the meeting at the Police Officers Mess, Ikeja: “The Presidential and National Assembly Elections as well as the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections presented some isolated challenges, which fake news purveyors fundamentally fueled, hate news mongers, political extremists, thugs and ethnic chauvinists, all of whom fraudulently manipulated the social media not only to threaten the electoral process but to create tension and threaten peace and security within the wider polity.
“It is with a sense of professional fulfillment that I note that the Lagos State Police Command navigated through these challenges to deliver to Lagosians what has been widely acclaimed as the most peaceful, secure and credible electoral engagement in comparative terms in the recent history of the State.
“This much was evidenced not just by the exceptional civility with which we policed the peaceful electorates, but also by the professionalism with which we responded to the localised and isolated security breaches that were orchestrated by electoral adversaries and the promptness with which we stabilised the security order without deploying lethal weapons and without causing or recording any citizens’ deaths all through the discharge of our duties in the 2023 General Elections in the State.”
According to Owohunwa, the exceptional performance of the police in Lagos State was also evidenced by the reality that contrary to the pre-election threat analysis projections, which identified Lagos as one of the possible flash States, where mass electoral violence was envisioned, “Lagos State did not witness any widespread electoral violence neither did the State experience post-election disorder.
“Indeed, the post-election trend has been that of peace and stability with the Police continuing to dominate the public space in a manner that continues to reassure the citizens and effectively deter ill-intentioned elements.”
He revealed that the police recorded a combined total of 54 major incidents across all the 13,325 Polling Units in the State, while a total of 45 suspects were arrested during the two electoral engagements.
He also stated: “Two thousand, eight hundred and seventy Permanent Voters Cards were recovered during police election security operations from various electoral offenders.
“Other recovered items included seven weapons of violence, including two firearms, 28 snatched Ballot Boxes, one BVAS machine and one PoS Machine being deployed for Vote Buying.
“Out of the cases under investigation, it is also on record that Lagos State was the first Command to conclude the investigation of the first sets of 14 electoral offences and promptly processed eight to INEC for prosecution in line with the Electoral Act and the directives of the Inspector General of Police, while others involving unlawful possession of firearms and sundry criminal acts were charged to courts by the Police.
“Investigations into the remaining electoral offences have reached advanced stages and as soon as they are concluded they will be similarly processed for prosecution in furtherance of efforts to sanitise our electoral space and discourage the resort to extra-legal means to attain political ends in future electoral engagements in the State.
“It must be highlighted that for our prompt efforts, the Lagos State Police Command has received commendations from the Inspector General of Police and local as well as international observers and other segments of the society.”