Lockdown on D-Day, no VIP escorts, IGP orders

Like it was during the first round of elections three weeks ago, there will be a lockdown on movement tomorrow across the country, for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly election.
Inspector-General of Police Usman Alkali Baba PHOTO: Twitter

Inspector-General of Police Usman Alkali Baba PHOTO: Twitter

• National Peace Committee sues for peaceful poll tomorrow
• NASS supplementary election holds in 15 states
• COAS charges troops to be non-partisan
• Nigerians will no longer accept failure, CSO tells INEC
• INEC officials will be target of violence, intimidation, CDD warns
• YIAGA: Cash crunch, others capable of derailing poll
• APC, SDP to appeal judgment on electronic transmission of result

Like it was during the first round of elections three weeks ago, there will be a lockdown on movement tomorrow across the country, for the governorship and state Houses of Assembly election.
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Yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, ordered a restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation from 12midnight to 6:00p.m. on election day, with the exception of those on essential services such as, officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), electoral observers, press, ambulances responding to medical emergencies and firefighters.

Spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, who made the disclosure, said: “This directive excludes the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as no election is being conducted therein.

“Similarly, the IGP reiterates 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. 

“State-established and owned security outfits/organisations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guards and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.”

Similarly, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, has directed formation and unit commanders of the Nigerian Army to ensure that troops remain professional and apolitical during the election.  
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The army chief, who handed down the charge while addressing formation and unit commanders across the country, commended the troops for their overall performance in the provision of security during the last poll and admonished them to shun all forms of inducement, enticement or cajoling that could compromise the security of the elections, adding that a secure and safe atmosphere must be provided for the citizenry to exercise their civic responsibility of choosing their leaders.  

He urged the commanders to intensify efforts at providing security support for the elections and be ready to respond promptly to any emergency situation, while prioritising the protection of key national infrastructure. 

The COAS equally reminded his commanders of the oath of allegiance they swore to defend the sovereignty of Nigeria and maintained that the Nigerian Army must be seen by all to stand in defence of Nigeria’s democracy.

IGP Baba has warned potential trouble-makers during Saturday’s elections of severe consequences. He gave the warning at the peace accord signing ceremony among gubernatorial and state Assembly candidates and chairmen of political parties ahead of the elections in Jigawa State, yesterday.

The IGP, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Training and Development, Force Headquarters, Mr. Hafiz Muhammad Inuwa, however, re-iterated the impartiality of the police and other security agencies, assuring that they are there to provide enabling environment for free, fair and credible polls.

Besides the governorship and state Assembly polls, elections into about 41 National Assembly seats covering eight Senatorial districts and 33 Federal constituencies will be conducted tomorrow.
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While the Senatorial election did not hold in one Senatorial district (Enugu East) as a result of the death of the candidate of Labour Party (LP), it also did not hold in one federal constituency in Edo State (Esan Central/Esan West/Igueben) because of the omission of the logo of one of the parties.

The National Assembly elections in Sokoto State were suspended with the supplementary polls involving the three Senatorial districts and 11 federal constituencies holding tomorrow.

Rescheduled elections will hold in 14 other states, which include Kebbi (Kebbi North); Plateau (Plateau Central); Yobe (Yobe South) and Zamfara (Zamfara Central).

THE National Peace Committee (NPC) has once again pleaded with Nigerians to toe the path of peace as they head to the polls to elect governors and members of various state Assemblies.
   
In a statement captioned: ‘Nigerians: Again, A Call for Calm,’ which was personally signed by the chairman, Gen. Abdulsalami A. Abubakar (rtd.), NPC said it was “following up with the same appeal that we made ahead of the presidential elections on February 25.”
  
 The committee said it understands and appreciates that “these are trying times for our country and its citizens,” pointing out that problems have arisen from the process of the collation, transmission and release of final results.
  
“We are encouraged by the restraint they have exhibited and their commitment to see justice through due process. This is in keeping with the spirit of the Peace Accord. We, therefore, appeal to supporters of all the parties and our citizens to please follow the example of their leaders and remain law-abiding till the process is brought to an end.
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“We are worried by the open threats of intimidation and violence by certain elements within the society who are using ethnic and religious labels to achieve their intentions of voter suppression.
 
“We appeal to the security and law enforcement agencies to remain at alert to bring to book anyone, no matter their position in society who poses a threat to the peaceful conduct of the elections.”
AN election observer group, Connected Development (CODE), has tasked INEC on the need for a successful conduct of Saturday’s election, saying Nigerians will not accept any excuse for failed polls.

The body, which disclosed that 20,000 trained observers will be deployed to polling units across the country through its Uzabe election observation platform, urged INEC to ensure that the challenges that marred the credibility of the February 25 poll are tackled professionally.

Recall that the presidential election was marred by numerous irregularities, including snatching of ballot materials, violence, voter suppression and intimidation, delay in arrival of electoral officials at the polling units and late commencement of accreditation and voting.

The inability of INEC to upload results real time from polling units to INEC’s result viewing portal (IReV), as prescribed by the Commission in its guidelines, also affected the credibility of the election.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Executive Officer of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, said INEC still has a chance to redeem its image. He said INEC, led by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, must step up and ensure a seamless election, adding that it is the first step towards rebuilding trust in the electorate.
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“There’s cause to point out that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and IReV technologies put a lot of faith in the electorate and this forthcoming election is another opportunity for INEC to redeem its image and ensure that their technology is functional and INEC’s guidelines on its usage are adhered to. This is a call to INEC to restore the citizens’ confidence in our democracy,” he said.

On the scheduled 2023 Oro festival announced by the traditional ruler of the Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom in Lagos State, Saheed Ademola, Lawal expressed concern over the development, saying there is not supposed to be any activity during elections because of curfew.

Despite denial by the kingdom that the festival will not affect the governorship election, Lawal said the organisation “suspect that this might be a strategy to further disenfranchise voters.”

He called on the Lagos State government and law enforcement agencies to address and put a stop to any activity that threatens the participation of the electorate on voting day.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has raised the alarm that INEC officials will likely be targets of intimidation from citizens and politicians tomorrow. The organisation warned that INEC staff will not only be challenged by popular perceptions of their poor performance during presidential poll, but will also be the targets of intimidation from politically-aligned actors.

CDD raised the concern in a report on its analysis of the key issues likely to shape the electoral process and outcomes of the elections released yesterday.
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The report, signed by CDD director, Idayat Hassan, noted that turnout could be higher than in the general election but there will be significant variation between states and geopolitical zones. The analysis stressed that the credibility of the process will be critical, but will be challenged by the threat of violence.

CDD warned that logistical obstacles linked to violence, cash and fuel scarcity would be issues to contend with in the course of the election.
In terms of the perception of the electoral umpire, the organisation warned that decreased trust in INEC following the delays and technical issues that undermined the polls on February 25 would present challenges.

Furthermore, another election observer body, YIAGA Africa, has identified citizens confidence in INEC, poor voter education along with lingering impact of the naira scarcity as factors that may impact voter turnout.

YIAGA board member, Ezenwa Nwagwu, regretted that the low turnout witnessed in the presidential election will be repeated for the gubernatorial election.

According to Nwagwu, if the challenges of scarcity of cash are not addressed, the Commission may experience further logistics challenges, which will no doubt impact the quality of the process.

“One of the reasons behind the logistics challenges experienced during the presidential election was due to unavailability of cash, which impacted the transportation of drivers from Registration Area Centers to polling units. This is despite the promises made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it will make available all the needed cash for effective logistics deployment.”
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Also, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has reminded security agencies of their primary responsibility to guarantee the safety and security of election officials as well as other election stakeholders, including voters, polling agents, election observers, media and service providers.

Situation Room Convener, Ene Obi, in a pre-election conference, yesterday, in Abuja urged Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are non-partisan, professional and avoid any actions capable of being interpreted as acting in support of any political interest.
AHEAD of Saturday’s poll, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Lagos State have applied for leave of the court to appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court that INEC electronically transmit the results of governorship and House of Assembly elections. 

Justice Peter Lifu had ordered INEC to electronically or digitally transmit Saturday election results, while delivering judgment in the suit filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. 

Although SDP, being an interested party, had approached the court to void the March 8 ruling, the party was refused, thereby warranting the application for the leave to appeal.

Also, APC has applied for a leave to appeal the judgment by Justice Lifu as an interested party. However, INEC’s method of result transmission is still in contention as another Federal High Court sitting in Abuja made an order that the electoral body is at liberty to adopt any method suitable to its operations.  
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