INEC, security agencies assure Nigerians of safety

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police, have said that adequate logistics and security arrangements have been put in place for prospective voters to exercise their civic duties during the September 10 governorship election in Edo State.

At the inter-agency consultative committee on election security meeting held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Chris Ezike, said about 22,603 policemen will be deployed for the election. This is aside from several officers to be contributed by other security agencies.

The Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Sam Olumekun, said the total number of registered voters in the state at the moment stood at 1,925,105.

According to him, the state has 18 local government areas, six of which are riverine in nature. The state has 192 wards, 2,627 polling units and 4,011 voting points.

He said that in accordance with the Section 46 of the Electoral Act (as amended), the public was served with the notice of the election on June 1, while the notice of polls was published on August 27. Distribution of the old Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), was done simultaneously with the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise between June 22 and 26, while distribution is continuing at the local government offices. New voters, numbering135, 877 registered during the exercise, but over 400,000 PVCs , remained collected.

Olumekun averred that both the publication of the voters’ register and the presentation of soft copies to political parties took place on August 11. To fulfill the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act, he said the Congresses of Political Parties (CPP), were monitored between June 2 and July 4, while the observation of the ongoing political campaigns started on June 2.

On his part, Ezike informed the audience that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), was advised at a recent meeting to shelve the conduct of the 2016 November/December Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), scheduled to hold on the election day.

He noted that since the state would be locked down throughout the day, with movement restricted, it would be impossible for candidates writing the examination to move about to their respective centres.

He said WAEC was also advised to relocate the candidates to nearby states for the examination.

Describing the election as a litmus test for the new Inspector General of Police, Ezike said the police in the state began preparations several months ago. He said: “If there is a way we can mitigate violence, our election will be conclusive. Since September 2015, we have made 870 arrests, while 525 suspects have been charged to court. Over 248 individuals have renounced cultism and some 248 small arms have now been recovered.” He said a show of force would be conducted on August 31, while a number of helicopters would be deployed for surveillance purposes during the election.

He assured: “for the Edo election, we are good to go. We will not give room for ballot snatching and we will enforce the no-movement order to the letter.”

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who chaired the meeting, commended the Police for putting a robust security arrangement in place. “If we can implement what you have on paper and presented to us at this meeting,” he observed, “then we can all look forward to a successful outing in Edo.”

Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, Department of State Services (DSS), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Federal Fire Service attended the meeting.

Others include representatives from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Police Service Commission (PSC)

A Deputy Inspector General of Police, Joshak Habila led the Police team