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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fear of violence as governorship election holds in 28 states today

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GOVERNORSHIP and House of Assembly elections hold across the nation today amidst apprehension that they could be marred by violence.
Twenty-eight states are holding governorship elections while the remaining eight are off-season states but Houses of Assembly election will hold there.
Out of the 28 states where governorship elections are holding today, 11 are witnessing incumbent governors seeking re-election.These are Oyo, Loagos, Kwara, Ogun, Zamfara, Gombe, Borno, Nasarawa, Yobe, Bauchi and Adamawa.
There are fears that there may be violence in some of the states, particularly Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Kano, Enugu, Kogi and Rivers among others.
However, security agencies have assured Nigerians that all necessary steps have been taken to protected voters, election officers and the generality of the people throughout the voting period.
Police authorities have stated that tighter security measures have been taken to ensure the overall success of today’s governorship and House of Assembly elections across the country.
Heads of security agencies and paramilitary organisations held a strategic meeting on Thursday in Ibadan, Oyo State, ahead of today’s elections, where they assured voters and other categories of Nigerians of adequate protection and arrest of all violence tendencies in order to ensure peaceful and credible polls.
The meeting, the second in one week, had in attendance top officials of the Nigerian Air Force, the police, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, State Security Service, Nigeria Customs Service, among others.
A communique after the gathering stated that the meeting was convened to review performances during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections with a view to having a better outing today.
The state Commissioner of Police, Adebowale Williams, who spoke on behalf of the other state heads of security agencies, said residents of the state “will witness a complete overhaul of the present security architecture to accommodate more inclusive measures effective from this moment.
“The measures include joint visibility patrols and raids of black spots, coordinated intelligence surveillance and close monitoring of habitual criminals.”
According to the communique, there will be involvement of forensic experts on hand to handle issues related to cybercrime, especially circulation of fake and unverified news that are can heat up the polity.
It warned that violators would be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrime, Prohibition, Prevention Act of 2015.
It said the ban on escorts accompanying their VIP principals to polling units, use of sirens and revolving lights by unauthorised persons, tinted glasses and covered number plates remain in force.
The document also said there would be vehicular restrictions from 12.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. today.
It said vendors of food, alcohol and other consumables would not be allowed to operate around polling units in order to avoid creation of points for negotiation and vote buying.
The communique said “going armed is a criminal offence and will be viewed seriously on Election Day” while advising residents against placing physical objects such as bricks, wooden materials or stones on streets and major roads under the guise of recreation as it might debar immediate intervention in times of distress.”
It also advised that post-election celebrations be done in moderation, devoid of inciting utterances and provocative gestures which could lead to an eventual breach of the peace.
“Ultimately, parents, guardians and leaders wielding degrees of influence in the society are once again enjoined to prevail on their children, wards, proteges against being used as expendable objects of disruption in Saturday’s gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, as stiff sanctions await all violators in accordance with all relevant laws,” the document said.
Osun State
The Osun State Commissioner of Police, Kehinde Longe, said one of the measures taken to prevent violence was to identify the flashpoints.
“We are having meetings with stakeholders and politically-exposed individuals to rub minds with them and let them know that it is only in the atmosphere of peace that people can really elect their representatives.
“Also, some individuals have been identified with violent inclinations. We have mounted surveillance on them. Again, there are plans to man the polling units and collation centres with enough security, in synergy with other security agencies, including the military. They are to assist in manning the boundaries other states share with Osun. There will also be township patrols.
“All the manpower in offices and all other ancillary services of the police have been deployed to the polling units while the tactical units and rapid response will provide armed presence to respond to distress calls whenever the need arises,” the police commissioner told Saturday Tribune.
He added: “We use this opportunity to appeal to members of the public to maintain peace, and rest assured that the environment will be well protected. The INEC officials and election materials will be well secured. Everyone is free to carry out their civic responsibilities without fear of intimidation and harassment.
“For those who believe they can do anything and go scot-free, the long arm of the law will catch up with them except they change their minds and be responsible citizens.”
Cross River
The Commissioner of Police in charge of elections in Cross River State, Aliyu Garba, had this to say: “We have taken a lot of measures, and these measures are to prevent crime before, during and even after the elections on Saturday.
“We have activated lots of proactive measures to ensure that the electorate, that is, the citizens, are well protected to exercise their franchise. These measures include, but not only limited to, stop and search, vehicular patrol, joint operation ‘show of force’ by all the security agencies. We also have undercover operatives. People won’t know or see them, but they are there. We will go round the nooks and crannies and raid black spots and flashpoints.
“Specifically, during election, we have the deployment of operational assets to move round polling units to give assurances of confidence to voters and electoral officers to conduct the voting activities without hindrance or disruption. Every citizen will be allowed to exercise their franchise without intimidation.”
Benue State
The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Wale Abass, gave the assurance that no form of violence would be allowed during and after today’s elections.
He said: “We did that during the presidential election and we will improve on it to ensure that no problem comes up.
“We also have enough manpower on ground. The IGP has been so wonderful by giving us a lot of assets, both human and material, to confront any infractions from any angle. So, with all those put in place, we have more than enough assets to work on.”
 Kwara State
The Commissioner of Police in Kwara State, Paul Odama, who was also in an emergency meeting with other heads of security agencies on Thursday, warned criminal elements and political thugs to shelve any plan to cause breakdown of law and order before, during, and after the elections.
The commissioner said any attempt to undermine the resolve of the command to secure the process and conduct of the elections would be visited with the full weight of the law.
He assured the people of the state of the readiness of the security agencies to ensure that the governorship and House of Assembly elections are successfully conducted.
At the meeting, it was resolved that all the security agencies would work in synergy to provide adequate security that would make the elections credible, peaceful and acceptable.
The commissioner disclosed that the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, had supplied the command with all necessary equipment, including pump action shotguns, long and shotgun-range riot gunners, hand grenades, rubber bullets, smoke pistols and body armour, all in large number, as well as petrol, diesel and utility vehicles for the purpose of making the election formidable security-wise.
“The citizens are advised to obey all relevant laws as they may be announced by the authorities, including any restrictions on vehicular movements on the day of the election,” he said.
Kogi State
The Commissioner of Police in charge of elections in Kogi State, Yekini Ayoku, in a meeting with officers of the command on Thursday, assured residents of the state of the police’s readiness to ensure a secure electoral process.
Ayoku had met with strategic commanders, tactical and operational commanders where methods were adopted to arrest stop any threat that might disrupt the process.
The commissioner, who stated that the meeting was to ensure proper security, directed all Area Commanders and DPOs to ensure effective visibility policing and step up their intelligence gathering in order to effectively forestall any untoward situation.
He warned those planning to disrupt the elections to stay away from the polling booths, saying that anyone found culpable would be dealt with according to the law.
He reiterated that the ban on unauthorised use of sirens, revolving lights, and covered registration number plates, while he called on VIPs to abide by the directive that nobody should move around with security details.
The CP said the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections had provided an opportunity to reflect on the experiences and lessons drawn with a view to addressing the issues that came to the fore and work out ways to improve on the process.
He said although there would be no governorship election in the state until the latter part of the year, the law enforcement agents were aware of the intense interest and passion over the election into the state House of Assembly, as the elected candidates would be representing the people of the state.
“It is in realisation of this that I solicit your support and cooperation in working with the police and other security agencies to ensure the election is conducted in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and violence.
“The task of emplacing a culture of peaceful and orderly elections therefore rests on our shoulders. As party leaders, we need to rein in our supporters and be ready to be responsible and accountable for their conducts,” he said.
The commissioner gave warned anyone doubting the police’s will and capacity to enforce the relevant laws guiding the process, saying that it would be a grave mistake on the part of such individuals.
“Anyone, no matter his/her status, that elects to run foul of the law will have us to contend with, as lawbreakers will be dealt with without mercy,” CP Ayoku stressed.

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