from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA’S State Security Service (SSS) has pledged impartiality in the elections the West African country will hold next month.
SSS, also known as the Department of State Services (DSS), has in the past been accused by opposition parties of being partisan and meddling in inter-party tussles.
The agency, which charged with detection and prevention of crimes and threats against the internal security of Nigeria, has also been accused of playing a role in the rigging of some state elections.
However, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, Director-General of the SSS, reiterated the need for professionalism and neutrality of personnel in the discharge of their duties.
He spoke in the capital Abuja at an event organized by the agency as part of its preparedness for the general elections scheduled for February 25.
DSS and other agencies tasked with maintaining security in the country have pledged to collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver credible polls in Africa’s economic and political powerhouse.
In a related development, INEC chairperson, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured SSS of the commission’s commitment to deliver free and fair elections.
In addition to the presidential polls, Nigeria will on February 25 hold elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives.
State governorship polls will be held on March 11.
Violence and interparty tensions as well as infighting in main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have marred the run-up to elections that are forecast to be the tightest since the advent of democracy in 1999, after three decades of military rule.
PDP, the ruling party in 1999, and the current governing All Progressives Congress (APC) are the frontrunners.
More than 93 million citizens are registered to vote, out of an estimated population of 218 million people, the biggest in Africa.
– CAJ News