The Nigeria Police Force, on Tuesday, said it has deemed it necessary to educate and caution Nigerians on the use of pets, especially, dogs, at the polling units on election day, adding that such act runs contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended.
This followed reports and plans by some electorate and groups to go to the polls on Saturday accompanied by their dogs as a form of protection against intimidation from political thugs and ballot box snatchers.
The spokesperson for the NPF, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, citing Section 126 (1) of the Electoral Act, said, “Dogs could be classified as offensive weapons as their owners/handlers can use them to intimidate, harass and cause assault and bodily harm to others.
“The Dogs Act, CAP 55 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1958 as domesticated in various States, and other Criminal Laws in Nigeria are trite.
“The conceived ideas and plans by certain individuals, electorate, and groups of people to go to the polls accompanied by pets are unacceptable, stand discouraged, and remain an act of electoral infraction as it will cause harassment and intimidation.
“The NPF, therefore, warns those who intend to display their pets, dogs specifically, for whatever purpose, at the polling units, to desist as such constitutes a violation of the electoral Act, 2022, as amended, and other extant laws.”
But reacting, the Chief Spokesman for the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, frowned on the police directive.
Tanko said, “It is unfortunate that what is essential in our security apparatus was not taken into cognizance. How did bringing a pet to protect oneself now became an issue? We are all witnesses when ballot boxes and electoral materials were destroyed by hoodlums; yet no single arrest has been made, precisely in Lagos where voters were being harassed with ethnic dichotomy in the presence of our security agents.
“The police statement is targeted at the ‘Obidient movement.’ While we condemn the act of violence, we will not also decry the issue of why people should protect themselves on March 11. This has become very important, considering the fact that the thugs in Lagos have been allowed to run riots.
“I think the Nigerian Police should do the needful by making arrest to deter those who plan to foment violence this weekend. The idea of bringing pets is own people’s way of protecting themselves against attack. Be that as it may, our people should not be singled out in terms of protecting themselves.”
Also reacting, the Chief Spokesman for New Nigerian Peoples Party Presidential Campaign Council, Ladipo Johnson, said, “ I think the police should concentrate on their basic duties. They should ensure elections are conducted free and fair, security-wise. I think we should concentrate on something serious instead of pets.”
But the Director of Publicity for the APC, Bala Ibrahim, said the directive by the police was in order.
He said, “Except you are using the pet for guide, I don’t see a reason anybody should go the performance of a civic responsibility with dogs. But if they are blind or incapacitated and dependent on that pet, it is understandable. You know it is not everyone who is friendly to animals.
“There are people who are scared and when you are going to vote. You should be prepared to meet people of all categories. Should you decide to go with dogs, you should have it at the back of your mind that you are putting someone’s safety at stake.
“There should be arrangement by operatives to provide adequate security instead of allowing people to come to polling units with dogs for protection.”