The governorship elections, according to the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), will be conducted in 28 of the 36 states of the country. There will be no governorship elections in eight states – Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Osun—as they are now off-season.
The INEC shifted the election from March 11 to March 18, to enable it to reconfigure the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS).
Ahead of the rescheduled date for the polls, there have been reported cases of violence in many states as governors seeking re-election and opposition candidates challenging them engaged in fierce clashes to control their states.
Lagos police on red alert
Daily Trust reports that there has been tension in Lagos State since the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, won the state during the presidential election.
To this effect, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Idowu Owohunwa, has directed area commanders and their respective Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to be on red alert ahead of the elections.
In line with the order, area commanders, DPOs and heads of tactical units are to remain in their areas of responsibility until after the elections.
Our correspondent learnt from a senior police officer at the command headquarters that the state police boss, Owohunwa, has advised officers to remain in their areas of responsibility, warning that area commanders and their respective DPOs would be held accountable in the event of a breakdown of law and order in their areas.
Owohunwa, in a phone chat with Daily Trust, said adequate security measures have been put in place for the election.
“Policemen have also been deployed to man key public facilities while additional men have been posted to man vulnerable areas,” he said.
Don’t doubt our capacity —Kano police
The clashes between the supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) counterparts have created apprehension in Kano State.
The security situation going into the election has been heightened by allegations and counter-allegations from the two leading political parties.
The state police command had earlier disclosed that it has good intelligence that some “disgruntled” politicians had concluded plans to import thugs into the state to disrupt the election.
Although the police did not mention the party the politicians belong to, both APC and NNPP have continued to blame each other.
Both parties have also continued to trade allegations over plot to rig the election, with the NNPP accusing the DSS of working for the APC while the APC said the grand plan of the NNPP was to disrupt the election process as soon as it realised it was losing.
Briefing journalists on Thursday, CP Muhammed Usaini Gumel, who was deployed to oversee Saturday’s election, reiterated that the police were ready to ensure the peaceful conduct of the election.
The “Inspector-General of Police before my arrival deployed reasonable assets and operational equipment to the state, and on this, we are good to go in the use of all these anti-riot gadgets and we have the capacity to quell any act of mayhem by anybody who has the feeling that he or she can subdue the election process,” CP Gumel said.
He said the police have also undertaken security threat analysis and upscaled the level of preparation for the election across all the polling units at the local government areas of the state.
“And we are fully prepared to emplace the requisite strategies toward managing the identified threats,” he added.
He called on residents to ignore “the rumour of insecurity being peddled and instead, prepare for a massive turnout at polling units to cast their votes for persons of their choices freely and unmolested.”
‘Stay off Rivers election’
In Rivers State, troublemakers have been warned to stay away from the Saturday governorship and house of assembly elections in the state.
The AIG in charge of elections in the state, Kayode Egbetokun, said the police will deal decisively with anybody that tried to foment trouble during the election.
“We are fully prepared for this election and full deployment of our men has been made to ensure a hitch-free election. I want to use this opportunity to warn troublemakers to stay off as the police will deal with anybody that will cause trouble during the election,” he said.
In the meantime, five political parties have alleged connivance between INEC and the state government to rig the election in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Briefing journalists on Wednesday, the parties vowed to resist any form of rigging and warned the INEC to remain truly independent on Saturday.
The parties are the All Progressives Party (APC), Accord Party, National Rescue Movement (NRM), Action Alliance (AA) and African Democratic Party (ADC).
But the PDP in the state has described the accusations by the five candidates, including that of the APC, Tonye Cole, as “the banter of half-wits who are busy quarrelling with even the air that they breathe while they quarrel with their tools.”
Hoodlums should steer clear—Kaduna police
In Kaduna, the police command convened a state-wide meeting with all strategic officers and charged them with the responsibility of ensuring strict adherence to the rules of engagement for the successful conduct of Saturday’s polls.
The Commissioner of Police on election duty in the state, Sunday Babaji, stated this while briefing newsmen on the preparation for a hitch-free election across the state.
He warned that any group of hoodlums planning to undermine the election must steer clear to avoid severe consequences, as the security forces are ready to deal decisively with lawbreakers no matter their position in society.
Babaji also urged all residents of voting age to come out on Saturday and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice without any fear of intimidation, promising to provide adequate security for them.
Borno police well prepared—PPRO
In Borno, the opposition PDP has alleged that the ruling APC is planning to cause mayhem and snatch ballot boxes in the state.
The state publicity secretary, Amos Adziba, in a statement, said: “The APC’s plan and strategy is to cause mayhem, and snatch ballot boxes in its usual desperate and ungodly moves, to win elections at all costs, not minding the afflictions and inflictions visited on anybody that stands in their way.
“This is why it has become necessary to draw the attention of the police commissioner, the military commanders, and the leadership of the respective security agencies,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the state secretary of the APC, Bello Ayuba, dismissed the allegations as baseless, unfounded and far from the truth, adding that the PDP is already jittery, knowing that it will be rejected by the electorate.
“The PDP has no ground as far as Borno State is concerned. As we are talking now, I’m sitting here to receive the whole PDP local government structure of Bayo local government and the same is happening at the local government of the deputy governor,” he said.
However, the police public relations officer, Mohammed Shatambaya, assured that the police are well prepared to provide adequate security for people before, during and after the election in the state.
Nasarawa NSCDC deploys 2,556 personnel
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Nasarawa State, said it has deployed no fewer than 2,556 personnel ahead of Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections in the state.
The public relations officer (PRO) of the command, DSC Jerry Victor, said the State Commander, Mr. Abbas Bappa-Muhammed, has assured citizens of the state of adequate security of lives and property during polls.
“The command is adequately prepared to protect all critical national assets and infrastructure in the state, where at least 2,556 personnel will be deployed to flash point areas,” he said.
IGP bars politicians’ escorts, restricts movement
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has ordered the restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation, from 12am to 6pm on Saturday when the governorship and state assembly elections will be held.
The police chief also reiterated the ban on all security aides to VIPs and escorts from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election.
Baba, who spoke through the Force spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, also said the state-established and owned security outfits/organizations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.
According to him, those on essential services such as INEC officials, election observers, accredited media and observers, ambulances responding to medical emergencies, and firefighters, are exempted, adding that the directive also excludes the Federal Capital Territory since no election is being conducted therein.
Don’t kill people you want to lead – Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has cautioned politicians against do-or-die politics, saying those who aspire to rule should not force themselves on the people.
Jonathan gave the admonition at Sampou community in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA of Bayelsa State after paying a condolence visit to Governor Douye Diri who lost his father, Pa Abraham Diri.
The former president also stressed that politics should be about service and not about self, urging politicians to wait for God’s time to get into leadership positions.
Jonathan noted that in a democracy, the people play a critical role and wondered why those who aspire to lead want to force themselves on the people.
He also advised the people of the state to conduct themselves peacefully during the election.