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Security Beefed up Ahead of Kogi Governorship Poll on Saturday

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The stage is set for the conduct of the governorship election in Kogi State on Saturday with the assurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that officials and sensitive materials meant for the poll have been deployed around the state.
On Thursday, Lokoja, the state capital, also witnessed an unusual presence of combat ready security agents following the deployment of 13,000 policemen and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state.
Similarly, INEC’s office in the state capital was very busy, as officials were seen sorting out election materials preparatory to their movement to the 21 local government areas of the state.
Commercial vehicle operators also had a hectic time coping with passengers who were travelling to their villages to cast their votes.
INEC’s Deputy Director in-charge of Publicity, Mr. Nick Dazang, told THISDAY that everything had been put in place by the commission to ensure a hitch-free election.
However, Dazang disclosed that one of the challenges envisaged by the commission, based on the security assessment, was that tomorrow’s election might be violent in some parts of the state.
According to him, the crime mapping and risk assessment carried out by INEC in the state showed that some areas were susceptible to outbreak of violence during elections.
Dazang listed the identified flash points to include Olamaboro, Dekina and Igalamela Obolo.
“As a result, what we have now done is to have inter-agency consultative committees on election security, with membership drawn from all the security agencies. The committee is co-chaired by the INEC chairman and the National Security Adviser,” he said.
He said that about 13,000 security personnel would be deployed for the poll, with police contributing 11,000 while other security personnel would be drawn from the civil defence corps.
In the same vein, he said that soldiers would be at border areas to provide security and ensure that the influx of miscreants are curtailed during the election.
The INEC spokesman said due to the peculiar nature of Kogi State which serves as a major link way between the north and south, it would be difficult to have total restriction of vehicular movement.
“You know that the road linking about 20 states traverses through Kogi. So the challenge is for the security agencies to work with personnel of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to facilitate movement of commuters passing through Kogi on election day, so that the restriction of movement within Kogi will not affect those that are passing through the state,” he explained.
He added that arrangements had been made to move sensitive materials to remote areas on the eve of the election.
As part of measures to check the outbreak of violence in Kogi, Dazang said INEC on Tuesday held a summit with all critical stakeholders including all the political parties participating in the governorship election.
Dazang said INEC also met with youths, women groups, people living with disabilities and other critical stakeholders in the state.
According to him, the commission ensured that it extracted a written commitment from the parties to play by the rules and to adhere strictly to the dictates of the electoral law.
He said the commission would use card readers for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
He maintained that as far as INEC was concerned, the conduct of the election would be credible, free and fair.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Halilu Pai, who supervised the distribution of election materials, said that the materials included ballot papers and result sheets.
Pai said that the materials would be taken to INEC’s offices in the 21 local government areas of the state from where they would later today be shared among the 239 wards.
According to him, INEC is ready and committed to conduct a free, fair, credible and acceptable election.
He urged political parties, security agents and other stakeholders to play their roles according to the rules.
He was also confident that the fuel scarcity currently being experienced in the state would not in anyway impact negatively on the process and outcome of the election.
He said that the commission had made arrangements with some fuel stations to sell fuel to all vehicles on election duty, and that the stations had been prevailed upon to operate on a 24-hour basis beginning from today.
Meanwhile, as part of measures aimed at ensuring the proper coordination of security operations for a hitch-free election, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Solomon Arase, has deployed Mr. Sotonye Leroy Wakama, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Operations, from the force headquarters, Abuja, to supervise security arrangements.
In a release signed by the police spokesperson, Mr. Olabisi Kolawole, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), the IG said Wakama would be assisted by three commissioners of police and three assistant commissioners of police during the election.
For the period of the election, the state Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, has been redeployed to force headquarters, Abuja, pending the conclusion of the poll.
The three CPs deployed to Kogi will be saddled with supervising security arrangements in the three senatorial districts of the state. They are Isaac Eke, Peter Ogunyanwo and Sam Okaula.
They will each be assisted by an assistant commissioner of police in the senatorial districts.
In addition, 4,969 personnel of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) drawn from different squadrons across the country have been deployed to strategic places to complement the 11,000 conventional policemen and other security agents already deployed for the election.
Considering the geo-location of Kogi State – sharing boundaries with 10 different states – the IG has ordered the partial restriction of vehicular movement within the boundaries of Kogi State form 6 am to 6 pm tomorrow.
“All states contiguous to Kogi State will be heavily policed while motorists and other travellers plying the highways will be subjected to rigorous searches by security agents on stop-and-search duties,” the IG said.
The police however advised travellers to take advantage of alternate routes to their destinations where necessary within the hours of the partial restriction of movement tomorrow.
While assuring Nigerian citizens, especially Kogi residents of the readiness of the police and other security agencies to provide effective security for a hitch-free election, the IG reiterated his earlier call on politicians and their supporters, party chieftains, opinion moulders and other relevant stakeholders to conduct themselves within the extant electoral law.
He warned that troublemakers and persons not directly connected with the smooth conduct of the election should stay out of the electoral process as the tough security arrangements in place would leave no room for any untoward behaviour, while any person, no matter his or her status, who attempts to test the will of the police and other security agents during the exercise would be isolated, apprehended and brought to justice.
He also ordered all security details to refrain from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election, as only security personnel specially assigned for election duties must be seen within and around designated polling units.

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