Anxiety over Saturday poll •Security agencies colluding with illegal arms dealers, criminals –Gov
Anxieties are beginning to peak over Saturday presidential election. Sunday Tribune learnt that many Nigerians are anxious that they may not be allowed to excercise their franchise freely in the election, owing to allegations of illegal arms build-up being levelled against certain top politicians in collaboration with security agencies.
In addition to this is also the fear that some state governments are planning network disruption to slow down the pace of communication on election day.
Sources said the plans had been hatched in some key states that were considered ‘swing states’ in the key election due on February 16.
While the allegations had been rife in many states, some actors have, however, pointedly accused the government of Kogi Sate as being at the head of the plot.
The plot, it was learnt, was leaked by some officials of Kogi State government who left the administration in recently.
Thus, apprehension heightened as it was revealed at the weekend that the state government had allegedly acquired equipment meant for the plot.
Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, confirmed much of this, on Saturday, when he alleged that Nigerians were not safe to cast their votes in the coming elections as a result of the threats by some political actors, especially in his state.
Dickson, who raised the alarm during a media interaction in Yenagoa, accused the opposition of colluding with some security operatives to stockpile arms to cause mayhem during the election.
A statement by his Special Adviser Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Dickson as expressing concern over the influx of arms into the state in recent times with the security agencies looking the other way.
He said his administration had been receiving reports on the activities of such politicians whose mission “is to turn the Ijaw nation into shreds like the strongholds of Boko Haram.”
The governor alluded to some politicians who are currently raising a militia group and providing its members with hard drugs for the purpose of intimidating and harassing legitimate voters.
He said it was “only in a failed state that partisan security forces, some of whom are fundamentalists, cannot guarantee the safety of the electorate.”
“In this country, we have had several instances where security men and women in uniform collude with criminal and terrorist in rigging elections and undermining the peace and stability of states like Bayelsa.
“We now have partisan security officials who have become an armed wing of the ruling party. They are not interested in peace, law and order; their concern is more in political conquest than maintenance of law and order in this state.
“They have undermined the security of this state in such a way that I have almost lost count of the number of commissioners of police redeployed to the state within a space of three months. This is the 10th commissioner they have sent.
“I am a governor whose authority has been most undermined in the area of security management of this state. I have records of how security officers in Abuja call militants and cult leaders, as well as how they give cover to their (criminals’) nefarious activities under the pretext of carrying out surveillance contracts,” he added.
Mr Dickson also pointed out that membership of the ruling party in the nation automatically conferred ‘immunity’ on criminal politicians.
“The new law is that if you are an APC [All Progressives Congress] member, you cannot be arrested when you kill. As an APC member, you can buy guns, get uniforms, camp militia, kill and nothing happens,” he alleged.
Trump has no blame for calling Africa ‘shithole’
Dickson said President Donald Trump of the United States should not be blamed for labelling African countries as ‘shithole’ countries as they had failed to provide effective leadership in line with democratic tenets to provide the requisite environment for growth.
However, Dickson called on the people not to despair, but to turn out en masse on Saturday to vote for candidates of their choice, expressing optimism that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would be victorious at the polls.
He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide a level playing field for all candidates, while, nonetheless, commending security operatives “who carry out their duties professionally” and assuring them of his administration’s continued support.
APC accused of plan to disrupt GSM network
In Kogi State, which is part of the swing states, part of the plan, it was alleged, is to cause the disruption to GSM services.
A credible source informed our reporters that the APC government in the Kogi State particularly had procured three network jammers, mounted on two Toyota SUVs and a BMW vehicle for this purpose.
The vehicles were said to have been parked within the premises of Government House, Lokoja.
According to the source, the plan was to ensure that there would be no real-time communication access to tally voter figures emanating from the various polling units and wards across the state on election day.
It was also learnt that the government had equally acquired telephone lines from a telecommunications company in South Africa to enable its officials communicate on election day, having disabled communication by the masses of voters.
“We have it on good authority that some operatives in the Yahaya Bello-led administration who resigned in recent weeks were privy to some of the backstage schemes and shenanigans of the APC-led government in the state left in good conscience, so as not to be morally complicit in the demonic designs of the government.
“This most recent finding is coming just as the Kogi State government has equally procured arms and ammunitions and trained select youths across the state on weapon handling and subterfuge, in the name of building a security volunteer force,” he said.
The opposition is now apprehensive that the move could be part of the government’s plan to manipulate the elections in favour of the ruling party.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, dismissed “any machinations or shenanigans“ that might be undertaken by the Kogi State government, as it believed that the people of the state were resolved to vote for its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and other PDP candidates in the elections.
Speaking on the issue in Abuja on Saturday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan, said there was nothing the governor could do about PDP’s victory unless there was no election in the state.
“For as long as there is election on February 16, Kogi people have resolved that they will vote for Atiku Abubakar,” he said.
But the APC dismissed the allegation as ridiculous and a mere rumour.
In a telephone interview with Sunday Tribune on Saturday, national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, dismissed the claim, saying; “how can anybody fly that ridiculous allegation; that we are planning with who to disrupt phone lines on election day? To achieve what end, because we are also going to be at a disadvantage? I don’t think any serious newspaper should be interested or pay attention to such rumour.”
The state government also debunked the allegation.
Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Mohammed Onogwu, said the allegations were tissue of lies from the opposition aimed at discrediting the state government.
He explained that Governor Bello had a jammer in his convoy that was being used to disconnect communication within the area the governor was located, adding that this was being used to safeguard the governor, but not meant for the entire state as alleged.
“On the issue of stockpiling of arms, the opposition parties have been holding their campaigns across the state as they want, they are the ones attacking the APC members in the central senatorial district. We don’t have arms.’’
We don’t store arms for election. The governor is very serious about the security of the state. He ensured that all the thugs used by the PDP and other parties for the 2015 elections were arrested and disarmed. So, we don’t have anything to do with arms,” he said.