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Security During Nigeria's 2015 National Elections: What Should We Expect From the Police?

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On March 28, 2015, Nigeria s sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, is scheduled to face Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress party in what is being called the most competitive presidential contest since the founding of the Fourth Republic and the country s return to democracy in 1999. Developments in Nigeria are of particular importance to U.S. policymakers and the international community more generally, given the country s vast size and population, oil resources, and the presence of the insurgent group Boko Haram. Speaking in Lagos in January, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the upcoming elections are the most important elections that this country has held. Violence before, during, and after elections has been a feature of Nigeria s political landscape since the 1940s. The federal government s first line of defense against election violence is the Nigeria Police Force NPF. By most accounts, the NPF was ill prepared for the protracted violence that followed Jonathan s election in 2011. That violence, and the intervention of the army to restore order, cast a shadow over the democratic process. The performance of the NPF will be one criterion for judging the broader political success of the 2015 presidential contest. As in 2011, Nigerian security officials have promised to deploy vast numbers of policemen to provide security, and have stressed the importance of preventing the kind of violence that marred the 2011 elections. Our research into the NPF suggests that there is little reason for optimism. In the view of many observers, the NPF remains plagued by corruption, inadequate training, and a lack of resources. Incompetence, predatory behavior, and widespread human rights abuses have deeply alienated the force from the population the NPF is intended to serve. These factors have made it next to impossible for the NPF to develop the intelligence information necessary to anticipate and thwart election-re

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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