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Kogi/Bayelsa elections: Politicians have mobilised thugs to disrupt, influence polls results, INEC alerts

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Adamu Abuh and Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
02 November 2019   |   4:27 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm on the likelihood of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states being disrupted by political thugs.

Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Adamu(left); INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and representative of National Security Adviser (NSA), Sanusi Galadima, during the Quarterly<br />Consultative Meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja… yesterday PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI-ELUKPO

• We Will Monitor Conducts Of Security Men, Assures NSA
• APC Cries Out, Accuses PDP Of Manufacturing Fake PVCs In Bayelsa

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm on the likelihood of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states being disrupted by political thugs.

The Commission alleged that the thugs were being mobilised from within and outside the states where the elections would be conducted.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, expressed the commission’s fear yesterday in Abuja during a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to review the security situation and arrangement for the forthcoming polls attended by the
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, representatives of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and various paramilitary agencies.

Yakubu said the outcome of the risk assessment conducted by the Commission identified some flash-points in the two states, adding: “There are already warning signals in the two states. Both are politically volatile.

“Elections have been severally disrupted by violence in the past. Our own risk assessment, which will be shared with the security agencies at this meeting, has identified some flashpoints.

“We are also concerned that thugs have been mobilised from within and outside the states with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors.”

He stated that the development called for a robust response before the elections, election day and during the process of collation and declaration of results, noting: “Nigerians expect that by now, we have learnt enough lessons from previous elections to ensure a swift security response to increasing desperation by political actors to disrupt elections and subvert the will of the electorate.

“If that happens, many Nigerians will blame the electoral umpire and the security agencies. We must continue to rise to this challenge.”

Yakubu stressed that over the last seven months, the Commission had been working assiduously to ensure that it conducted credible elections, adding that INEC was committed to the integrity of the process and as such, cannot undermine the processes it had so laboriously established.

The INEC boss said the Commission had the assurances of security agencies that election- day activities at polling units and collation centres would go on smoothly without being disrupted.

Responding, Adamu said the Police was aware of the security challenges in the two states and have made adequate provisions, in terms of personnel and logistics, to overcome any security lapses that might manifest during the elections, disclosing that the Force would be deploying over 66,000 personnel to provide security for the election.

The Police chief said: “In Bayelsa State, we are deploying about 31,041 personnel, and in Kogi State, we are deploying about 35,200 to cover the elections. They will mount every terrain in the two states. No tout would be allowed to be brought from any other adjoining state to disrupt election.”

He warned perpetrators of election violence and those who intend to engage in vote-buying or selling to steer clear of the states, as anyone caught in the act would face the full wrath of the law, while also assuring the electoral commission of the safety of election materials, and staff to be deployed on election day.

“The security of election materials are guaranteed and INEC offices and collation centers would be adequately protected. Security would be doubled to protect the collation centers where results would be announced.

“We have done our threats analysis and some of our personnel have been deployed in advance to the states to curtail them before the election day. The Police will not tolerate vote-buying. Anybody seen around the polling units trying to buy vote will be arrested and prosecuted,” he assured.

On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) said the Federal Government would keep an eye on the conduct of security agencies, saying the Office of the NSA is not unaware of the volatile security situation in the two states.

Monguno, represented by Mr. Sanusi Galadima, called on politicians in the two states to eschew violence and allow peace to reign during and after the polls.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has began large-scale manufacturing of fake Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as part of its grand design to rig the poll.

APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, alleged that the act was being perpetrated by Governor Dickson and his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mrs. Ebizi Brown.

Claiming that the fake PVCs have been codenamed, “Biafra Card,” the party called on security agencies to come to its rescue by bringing the masterminds of the act to book, urging INEC to rise up to the occasion to checkmate the activities of those bent on undermining the peaceful conduct of the polls, adding that some of the manufactured fake PVCs were being stored at the residence of Mrs. Brown in Odoni Ward 8 Sagbama Council.

“Don’t forget that during this year’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Bayelsa State, only 22 smart card readers out of the 69 stolen by political thugs were retrieved by the INEC.

The Bayelsa-born APC chieftain urged voters in the state to resist the desperate plots to foist any candidate on them through rigging, vote-buying and violence.

In a swift reaction, PDP said the APC was jittery over the elections in both states, because it has been rejected by the people.

PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told The Guardian: “Consequent on these total rejection, the APC and their candidates are engaged in fabrication of tales that best fits their imagination.

“The PDP is prepared for credible, free and fair elections, which our candidates are already sure of winning with the support of the people of the state.

“Our candidates will not be distracted by the allegations of those whose antics as manipulators of electoral process is well known.”