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Security, conduct and outcome of last elections impact today’s polls

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People walk past a blockade mounted with used tyres by soldiers on the road leading to the main gate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 8, 2019. – Nigerian voters will go to the polls on March 9 to elect governors and lawmakers in 29 of the nation’s 36 states two weeks after presidential and national assembly elections in which Buhari was elected for a second term. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

As Nigerians go out to cast their votes in the governorship and State House of Assembly, as well as Supplementary Elections today, the issues of (in)security, conduct and outcome, in addition to the role of security personnel, especially the military in parts of the country during the last Presidential and National Assembly Elections would certainly impact, positively or negatively on today’s exercise.

In areas where the exercise was marred by Indices such as violence, ballot snatching, security high-handedness or inability or unwillingness to checkmate thugs/hoodlums and perceived bias, compromise or connivance of some staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that characterized February 23, 2019 exercise in some areas across the country will provoke either of the two possibilities in today’s elections – voters aparty or massive voter turnout.

It is expected that some voters would be reluctant to come out to vote, based on past ugly experiences and unfavourable outcome of the last polls.

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Meanwhile, supporters of winners would want to troop out to prove that their victory was not a fluke, just as supporters of the losers would want to prove the point that it was just a one-off, especially as the outcome of today’s elections impacts more directly on the people at the grassroots than that of February 23.

So, there would be different motivations to vote for different people, as are varying reasons not to vote for some electorate.

Of utmost importance today is security of lives and properties during and after the polls, credibility and fairness, as well as making the votes cast to count in the elections of governors and state and federal lawmakers.

As in the past, it is likely to remain a two-horse race between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

A police anti-bomb vehicle is parked at the main gate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 8, 2019. – Nigerian voters will go to the polls on March 9 to elect governors and lawmakers in 29 of the nation’s 36 states two weeks after presidential and national assembly elections in which Buhari was elected for a second term. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


Ethnic Tension May Impact Lagos Polls, Despite Assurances Of Safety
By Daniel Anazia and Maria Diamond

Following the outcome of February 23 elections in Lagos, which was marred by snatching of ballot boxes by thugs in some parts of the state, including Okota and Isolo, especially areas dominated by non-indigenes as well as malfunction and non-function of the card readers, alleged rigging, among others, some Lagosians have expressed reservation about coming out today to cast their votes.

Promise Kalu, a resident of Okota, said he would not risk his life going out to vote, explaining that he merely escaped being killed by hoodlums that stormed his polling booth during the last polls.

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He said: “I voted in the last election, but the outcome was not encouraging. The process was grossly compromised. Rather than risk my life going out to vote, which at the end of the day may not count, I will stay indoor with my wife and young daughter.

“People were attacked for expressing their rights to vote for a candidate of their choice by thugs who perceived they were voting against their own choice of candidates and party.

“I jumped through the fence to escape when the thugs came with guns and machetes to my polling unit to disrupt the voting and snatch the ballot boxes. There is still every possibility that the same thing would happen on Saturday (today),” he added.

A cross section of traders at the popular Ladipo International Market in Mushin said following the attack on some of their members during the last elections, they may not participate in today’s exercise.

While acknowledging persuasions from the two major parties and candidates in the state, a number of them were not sure they would go out to vote today.

While condemning the violence that characterised the February 23 elections, particularly in Isolo, Okota, Ejigbo, where a large number of traders reside, a trader at the Aguiyi Ironsi Market, popularly known as Palemo, Joshua Abasiaba, said: “Most traders in the market are eligible voters and would not vote due the incidence of the presidential election, when most of them living in Isolo, Okota, Ejigbo and Ajeromi-Ifelodun were attacked.

“So, I don’t think most people would want risk their lives to vote. Though there was no general circular from the market leaders and associations for people to stay away, but most peoples’ opinion is tending towards not voting,” he added.

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Electrical equipment merchant and resident of Mafoluku, Levi Nwanganga, said there is no point going to vote, as thugs would always have a free day.

“It was strenuous for me to cast my vote during the February 23 elections, now that violence has been added to the whole thing, it is no longer fun to vote,” he said.

A police anti-bomb vehicle is parked at the main gate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 8, 2019. – Nigerian voters will go to the polls on March 9 to elect governors and lawmakers in 29 of the nation’s 36 states two weeks after presidential and national assembly elections in which Buhari was elected for a second term. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


At Iyana Itire bus stop, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Atinuke Ojo, a caterer, expressed disappointment in INEC and as such, does not feel motivated to vote.

She said: “It is not a question of whether I am going to come out to vote for the elections; it is a question of why do I need to come out to vote, considering the mess they made of the last elections and all the controversies here and there? No way!

“How about the risk of coming out to vote? With hoodlums here and there and the Police looking the other way, I don’ t have any reason to come out and vote since the professional riggers who obviously underrate the intelligence of Nigerians, thinking we cannot do the arithmetic of the presidential election, have decided to crown themself winners.

“Tell me why I need to waste a lovely weekend on elections that wouldn’t be free or fair? I think I would rather see the weekend as a public holiday and stay indoors with my family the whole day.

“I voted the other time, but I regretted it and still do, since it turned out to be a total waste of time. So, no more, perhaps in four years time,” she said.

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Mrs. Seki Ogundamisi said she is glad she didn’t vote during the last exercise. Even though she does not have PVC, but with the outcome, she wouldn’t have attempted voting today if she had the PVC.

She said in Yoruba language: Ibo abi ki le pe? Vote? Never! My husband and I have sat our children down to tell them how important they are to us and how we would not survive it, should anything bad happen to any of them in the cause of election violence.

“The three of them are eligible to vote, but they will not. They will not even step out of the house that day and nothing will change that decision, not even with all the money in the world,” she insisted.

Kachi (surname withheld), a businessman, said he would come out to vote since he registered in Lagos.

He, however, added that if INEC and government want people to come out to vote today after everything that went wrong with the last elections, security should be prioritised.

He noted: “There were too many loopholes in security during the last elections, which led to paranoia everywhere. People, especially hoodlums, had no regard for Nigeria Police Force because of the shadiness attached to their dealings.

“So, the military should be fully involved in the security of today’s elections. I believe if Nigerians have a sense of security, not the rhetoric they are giving us, they would come out to vote.”

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Tade Jimoh, a secondary school teacher, said: “I will come out to vote for two reasons. First, because I feel obligated as a citizen and second, my students will definitely ask if I voted and I wouldn’t want to tell them I didn’t vote. It is not because I believe the exercise will be fair, considering everything that has happened since the last elections.

“Notwithstanding, I will be very alert. If I perceive any form of violence, I will not hesitate to run for my safety.”

Jimoh added that insecurity is the major reason people might not come out en masse to vote and if security is guaranteed, she saw no reason why those interested in the exercise would not come out to vote, adding: “I used the word ‘interested,’ because Nigerians are obviously tired of these phase and as such, passion or interest is the only thing that gets people to come out and vote in this country.”

This is despite assurances by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the two major contestants that adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure voters are safe to participate in today’s elections.

Ambode said the security agencies would ensure that everyone is safe to perform their civic duties and appealed to Lagosians to shun violence and respect the electoral process to elect new leaders.

A police anti-bomb vehicle is parked at the main gate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 8, 2019. – Nigerian voters will go to the polls on March 9 to elect governors and lawmakers in 29 of the nation’s 36 states two weeks after presidential and national assembly elections in which Buhari was elected for a second term. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


In the same vein, state Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, noted that there was no cause for panic and fear, as the command was set to provide adequate security in the state during the exercise.

Muazu said the issue the command was contending with is the menace of fake news circulated on social media regarding alleged planned attack on Igbo traders in the state, assuring that the Police had provided adequate security for all Igbos and other persons in the state, just as he warned initiators and distributors of fake news to stop causing unnecessary tension.

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“Lagos State is peaceful and Lagosians are peace-loving people. There is no tribe or community under threat in any part of the state. Our patrol and surveillance are intensified. We have reviewed and redoubled our strategies to ensure a peaceful conduct of the elections,” he said.

He urged residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement or persons to the Police, saying there would be total restriction today and no motorcycle or tricycle would be allowed to move around.

‘Security Remains Biggest Obstacle To Free, Fair Elections In Nigeria’
From Sony Neme, Asaba

DESPITE assurances of adequate security arrangements put in place, analysts fear voter apathy due to the performance and roles of some security agents during and the outcome of the elections, as well as utterances and actions ahead of today’s polls.

In the opinion of some, despite efforts to encourage the electorate to come out and vote, major stakeholders and party men appeared bent on continuing with what the last elections threw up.

But the Delta State acting Police Public Relations Officer, Chucks Orisanezie: “We are fully on ground and urge the electorate to go out and exercise their right. We have identified all flash points within the state and have put in measures to contain any reoccurrence of what transpired during the last election.

“We also warn would-be troublemakers and those bent on committing electoral malpractices to have a rethink, as the state Police Command has zero tolerance for such illegalities before, during and after the elections.”

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An All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, Prof. Pat Utomi, who is still in court challenging the outcome of the party’s primary election, believed what was witnessed during the last elections is a recipe for violence.

He stated: “Having witnessed the impunity of the last few months, I have come to the conclusion that many in the political arena actually do not believe in the democratic process. This is recipe for violence… I was under pressure by followers, who are convinced that the court ruling would favour us to escalate my campaign. Such is a classic setting for violence. 

“So, I ask myself why the blood of anyone should be lowered in dignity to be spilled on the altar of such impunity. This is the case with Nigeria at large and the fear of violence looms.

“Some are calling for troops to be used in parts of the state for rigging. What should be expected in such circumstances, but violence and apathy? It is a good time to remember the prayer of St Francis of Assisi and ask God to make us instruments of His peace.”

As a result of the experiences during the presidential elections, Utomi noted: “There isn’t going to be a voter boycott of the election. The extent of voter turnout will, however, depend on how much the government is able to assure everyone of adequate security.

“On the utterances of politicians, especially those in the losing parties, who can often be so bitter and desperate to gain lost grounds in the state after defeat in the federal election, they not only promote violence, but also raise private armies and bands of thugs to perpetrate violence.”

For Secretary General of Ndokwa Neku Union, a Pan-Ndokwa socio-cultural group, Rev. Jonathan Dike, no lesson has been learnt and security breach could be worse today, going by threats by parties’ chieftains.

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“We do not have reliable security agents in our country, rather what we have is compromised, government-controlled military, Police and para-military. We saw the Army in the last election intimidating the electorate and chasing them back, which prevented a lot of people from voting.

“We are even expecting worst situation in today’s elections, especially with the unrepentant posture of Mr. President and his men, who have vowed to take over Niger Delta by force and are already terrorising Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom states.

This behaviour will either make the people not to turn out at all, since they know their votes may not count, or they will prepare to resist them even with their last drop of blood. That in itself is going to be dastardly and the effect will be alarming. 

“I am not a party man; I am for non-violent elections in our country and have carried advocacy to every nook and cranny of Ndokwa West to ensure there was no electoral violence in Ndokwa West during the last elections. So, we call for fair play and justice, we appeal to all stakeholders to know that their ambitions are not equal to any human life.

“Our people in the Niger Delta should be wise to know that some people are using our greedy politicians to divide and destroy us. It is a systematic plan to gain control of our resources, our land and our people. We must therefore resist them and come together as a people now or fall victims to their sinister plot. 

“Nigerians cannot trust any man in Police or army uniform, because they have been used over the years to kill our people. Even now, anybody can get himself any uniform to perpetuate evil. We call for peaceful elections come today and plead with our people to use their PVC wisely.”

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A former commissioner of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), representing Delta State, Ogaga Ifowodo, said:
“Security remains the biggest obstacle to free and fair elections in our country. Casting a vote ought to be the simplest and most ordinary activity in a polity.

“I have witnessed elections at home and abroad, specifically in the United States (US), where I lived as a postgraduate student and university teacher for 13 years, and it is clear to me that the reason why it seems impossible for us to have peaceful elections is that the Nigerian electorate is both victim and perpetrator of polling station violence. 

“Voting should be such an ordinary affair that a citizen can stroll from work, detour from running an errand, take a break from reading the newspaper or a book and go to the polling station to cast his or her vote and then go back to what he or she was doing 30 minutes or an hour ago.

Yet, as much as I deplore the militarisation of polling stations, the reality is that it is the only guarantee of passably free and fair elections in our country at present. 

“My experience in my unit during the February 23 elections proved to me that if soldiers hadn’t arrived just in time, the ballot boxes would not only have been broken open and the already cast ballots and result sheets destroyed, but also the lives of the electoral officers, party agents, observers and even some voters might have been endangered. I can testify that at a point, I feared for my own safety, being inside the polling unit at the time. 

“Regrettably, the trouble was caused by the electoral officers, who chose to end voting prematurely, because it was getting dark, as they claimed, even though other stations extended voting well beyond twilight, when nearly 200 citizens who had waited all day to exercise their most important civic right were yet to do so. And for no fault of theirs, the electoral officers, having arrived late and my unit, which has 1,089 voters and ought to have been split into two, was herded into one voting point. 

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“The sad truth, however, is that if soldiers do not join in maintaining order at polling stations, armed youths, almost always working for the dominant party, would have a field day snatching ballot boxes and unleashing terror to intimidate the opposition. This is one of the main causes of voter apathy: fear of suffering bodily harm for merely going to cast a vote.”

He insists that security during elections is beyond the Police, saying: “From what I have witnessed and the accounts I have heard and read from others, policemen do not quite compel good behaviour from armed thugs, whose sole aim is to take over the polling station or destroy ballots where the politicians that employ them are unpopular or losing the vote. Sometimes, it is even a pre-emptive operation to prevent voting in a unit where the opponent is quite formidable and the number of registered voters is very high, a strategic strike for vote suppression. 

“Under the prevailing do-or-die electoral atmosphere, the Police would have to be armed to the teeth, to the point of not being different from soldiers, if they are to achieve the same result of elections minimally free of violence.

“I think the cure to this plague on our polity is prompt prosecution of persons arrested for thuggery or violent conduct during elections. Only then will the law serve as deterrence to electoral thugs and the process of reorientation of many a citizen and politician to see elections not as war, but a civic activity would begin.”
 
State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza, also expressed worries about security in the state, stressing: “Ordinarily, the essence of providing or deploying large numbers of security personnel is to assure the people that their safety is guaranteed as they go about performing their civic responsibilities of voting for candidates of their choice without harassment, molestation and intimidation. 

“But what played out in the February 23 elections and indeed in all the elections conducted in this regime has been a situation where identified security officials have aided and abetted the ruling party to commit election malpractices and sabotage the electoral processes.

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“Although there were minimal cases of intimidation of voters, due largely to the courage and bravery displayed by the electorate in their determination to cast their votes, the problem is that security personnel have been caught helping those who have disrupted elections, destroyed and even carted away election materials where the party was found to be facing heavy defeat. 

“So, our hope and prayer is that the security personnel, whether Army, Police, Civil Defence and the rest, should exhibit professional neutrality and be guided by Peacetime Rules of Engagement (PROE) and the law that specifically stipulates that they have no business getting involved in partisan politics, but be on the side of the people in the elections.”

Osuoza, who also doubles as the Publicity Director of PDP Campaign Council, said the Police know what to do in an election situation, adding: “Their job is to protect the voters and electoral officials from undue harassment and intimidation, prevent thugs, hoodlums, miscreants and other agents of destabilisation from accessing and infiltrating polling units and collation centres to tamper with election materials, apprehend any person or group whose intention is to disrupt elections and make sure the electoral process is hitch-free and goes on smoothly from beginning to end.”

On the tense situation in the state and frustrating experiences of the electorate the last time, he insisted: “First, we must establish that the turnout of voters has always been far below the number of registered voters in all our elections.

However, one would expect that the turnout in today’s elections would be higher than the last one, because these elections is closer to the people and involves them directly, as those to be elected would be operating and serving them in the state and not from Abuja.”

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Assembly Poll Will Determine Obiano’s Fate
From Osiberoha Osibe, Awka

ALTHOUGH governorship election is not holding in Anambra State today, but the state House of Assembly election is likely to determine the fate and political future of Governor Willie Obiano; hence he is taking it seriously. As a result, Anambra is likely to be volatile as political parties and politicians battle for seats.

Obiano may have been electorally whitewashed in the elections, given the failure of his All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to convince its detractors that its 21 out of 29 seat victory in the November 17, 2017 election was not a fluke.
 
The party was taken to the cleaners in the last elections by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prompting contrasting views on whether the polls would impact positively or negatively on today’s Assembly election, as it requires a convincing win of majority seats for Obiano to have a smooth sail in his second term in office and starve off any possible impeachment if PDP repeats last polls’ feat today.
 
There are those who believe that the outcome of those elections would influence the outcome of today’s assembly poll, amidst opposing views.

Chinedu Onwuaso, who defeated a sitting House of Representatives member for Awka North and South Federal Constituency, in the elections, believed PDP would replicate the victory template, adding that the electorate have become wiser in the choice of leaders.
   
But to those who think the Atiku-Obi ticket was a dummy sold to the Southeast stressed that PDP would not have it easy in today’s election.

John Bosco Onunkwo said the people were deceived because Obi told them negative things about APC and its presidential candidate and urged APC supporters and members to contribute financially, materially and otherwise to boost the chances of its contestants in today’s elections, adding that with Buhari’s victory, the people would begin to see what people like him saw years back and begin to identify with APC.

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Similarly, APC state Youth Leader, Augustine Muomaife, noted that the last elections would not affect today’s poll, stressing that APC lost to church politics propagated by Obi.

He dismissed the insinuation that Obiano might be impeached if majority of PDP members win majority seats, saying the lawmakers were not sent there to go and impeach the governor, but to work with him to deliver democracy dividends.
  
Even a chieftain of PDP, Ken Okoye, does not see the possibility of Obiano’s impeachment should his party get the upper hand in the state legislature, saying: “PDP will not be thinking about impeaching the governor. In fact, most of them spent a lot of money to campaign and would be more interested in recovering the money they spent than scheming on how to remove a sitting governor.
  
“Again, even if Obiano of APGA loses all the assembly seats, he can lobby those who win to decamp to APGA to stop any impeachment threat.”

On her part, a chieftain of APC, Ijeoma Nnaemeka, said: “The assembly election is not like the other elections. When it comes to state assembly election, personality, rather than party affiliation, determines it.
  
“In the last elections, people were told to vote for PDP, but I delivered my polling unit. APC will also win more votes in the assembly election.”

One area that would continue to bother Obiano is the insistence of members of the aggrieved APGA aspirants association’s demand for the head of the National Chairman, Victor Oye, and refund of all monies he allegedly extorted from them, failing which they would work for opposition parties in today’s election.

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“Mach 9 is very dicey and the governor knows the implication. If they adhere to our stand, APGA will make good impact in the election and failure to do so, there will be problem…” one of their leaders stressed.

Even an aide of the governor fears that failure of APGA in the poll today could give the PDP an opportunity to commence impeachment proceedings against his boss.
 
Obiano is aware of landmines laid before him by opponents working towards the party’s electoral failure in the election; hence he left no stone unturned to ensure it wins majority of the seats, especially with the launch of a final push for victory campaign to shore up its sagging image and dwindling fortunes ahead of today, but the absence of some prominent members, particularly those that lost the elections, took the shine off the event.

Though he is not contesting, but this is one election Obiano, who is the Chairman of Board of Trustees and National Leader of APGA, would swim or sink.

He has said this much at different for a, noting that APGA’s failure to dominate the state legislature would affect the smooth running of his government and prompt payment of salary, assuring that he would be the first governor to pay the new minimum wage.
 
The reality of the moment is not lost on party supporters. Stephen Anigbogu observed that the plan to impeach Obiano if APGA fails to secure majority seats in the election is real, saying: “The plan by PDP in Anambra to take over the Assembly and subsequently impeach the only APGA governor in the country, then return Anambra to pariah state, like they did in the past, where kidnapping and non-payment of workers salaries, etc, reigned.
  
“But danger known is no longer a danger. Anambra cannot afford to go back to Egypt, where our sons and daughters cannot return home because of kidnapping.”

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Apart from the assembly contest, APGA is trying to find its bearing in the supplementary election for Idemili North-South Federal Constituency, one of the most volatile battlefields, where both camps easily mobilise youths as cannon fodders.

Commissioner of Police in charge of elections, Rabiu Ladodo, promised to personally lead operations, especially in the volatile polling units in Obosi and Abatete, among others wards in the state, assuring that the elections would be conducted peacefully, as the command had reviewed its operations and mapped out strategies to address major election threats in the state, such as thuggery and cultism, through robust inter-agency cooperation, visibility patrol, intelligence gathering and constant raids of criminal hideouts to nip in the bud all forms of threats to the election.

Plateau Police Promise Peaceful Exercise
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos

THE Plateau State Police Command said it was ready for the peaceful conduct of the elections.

Its spokesman, Mathias Terna Tyopev, said security and law enforcement agencies have rolled out strategies to ensure hitch-free exercise, guaranteeing the public of their safety, as security agents were on the alert to contain any act capable of breaching the peace, law and order.

The state, being one of the political hotbeds in the country, the residents are politically conscious and the atmosphere remained charged, especially considering the strong showing of the two major political parties in the last elections.

Calistus (surname withheld), a politician in Jos, said the ruling APC is going to carry the day, though he added that the elections would be tough.

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But George Alfred argued that results of the last elections would not have a bandwagon effect on today’s polls, saying: “You cannot say because PDP has lost, we should vote for APC again.”

Last Victory And Loses May Influence Enugu Polls
From Lawrence Njoku, Enugu

THE political frenzy in Enugu State was a fever pitch yesterday in anticipation of the elections. The losses and victories of the political parties shored up the campaigns, as they restored hope and despair in some cases.

But it could turn out to be an anti-climax and a one-sided affair. While PDP campaigned vigorously for the elections, the presence and campaigns of other political parties were not so felt.

APC’s legal tango, which allows it to go into the contest without a clear candidate between Ayogu Eze and George Ogara dampened morale in the party, a development that seemed to have reduced security pressures in the state.

Uzochukwu Ugwu said he did not vote in the last elections, but would vote today, saying: “I did not register for the elections to vote any other person except the person that will govern Enugu State. I am not interested even in members of the Assembly, because they have proven to be rubber stamp. So, it will be a waste of time to stand in the sun to vote lawmakers, but for governorship, I can queue for hours.”

The Police in the state said they were ready for the exercise and would maintain the peace and orderliness required to enable the people vote freely for candidates of their choice.

State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, in a statement, advised the public to be law abiding.

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Akure Monarch Urges Security Agents To Uphold Their Responsibilities
From Oluwaseun Akingboye, Akure 

CONTRARY to the peaceful atmosphere that pervaded the last elections in Ondo State, there were political violence and pent up tension across the 18 councils of the state ahead of today’s assembly poll. 

This was not unconnected to APC’s loss of two senatorial and five House of Representatives seats to the PDP, more so as the Ondo South seat, supposedly won by PDP, was declared inconclusive, due to incidents of card reader failure and pockets of electoral violence, especially in the riverine areas; hence the cancellation of polls in over 52 units. 

Though there is no governorship election in the state, but the contest for the 26 Assembly seats is a litmus test for the APC and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who have been running around to canvass for votes to win majority seats in today’s election and the supplementary poll in Ondo South. 

Some voters in South District expressed anxiety and fear, alleging coordinated attempt to rig the polls. 

“We will defend our votes here and allow it to count. Anybody that will rig this election here would rather kill the whole people in the South and riverine area to have his/her way,” said Clement Mafikuyomi, while Raphael Nnamdi, a spare part dealer in Akure metropolis, declared that he would not go out to vote due to the perceived imminent danger, adding: “How much are they going to pay me that I will lose my life or allow one thug to manhandle me?”

Commissioner for Police, Undie Adie, reiterated the commitment of the state command to ensure maximum security, safety of lives and properties across the state, saying the Police had put on place, mechanism and structure to ensure the elections are peaceful and violent-free across the state. 

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He disclosed that personnel would be adequately deployed to all polling units to guarantee hitch-free process and respond promptly to any exigency that may arise. 

Parish Priest of Mary Help Christian Parish in Akure, Rev. Fr. Stephen Omoniyi, sued for peace during the polls, urging Christians to desist from any sinful act during the period of Lent and eligible voters to come out en masse and vote for the candidate of their choice.

The Deji and the Paramount Ruler of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, cautioned politicians against instigating or causing violence before, during and after the polls, vowing to invoke the spirit of the ancestors on anyone bent on disrupting the existing peace in the land and warned against a repeat of the ugly1983 saga, which he said drew Akure back.

The Deji-in-Council urged he security agents to be alive to their responsibilities and apprehend potential criminals and ensure adequate security coverage during the election, while admonishing INEC to remain neutral and impartial in the elections.

IMO: Ohaji/Egbema, Okigwe North Remain Volatile
From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri

IN Imo State, security operatives and INEC work assiduously to tackle electoral and related violence in Ohaji/Egbema and Imo North (Okigwe) senatorial district, where incidences of snatching of ballot boxes and electoral materials were recorded during the last polls, with hoodlums storming some polling booths and shooting sporadically before carting away boxes and materials to unknown destinations.

Following the ugly incidences and overpowering of policemen at some polling units and centres, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu, while decrying the alleged non-challance and inability of some security men to take directives from him, but from their bosses that deployed them to the commission, said security operatives deployed to the commission must subject themselves to the control of the officials of the INEC during elections. 

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“Security officers deployed for general elections should be handed over to the INEC to control, but in reality, that is not. I called one and told him what to do, but he said to me, ‘Oga, I take directives from my boss.’ The issue of security continues to be a problem.”

All the above might lead to resentment and aparty of voters to come out and vote today, one voter in Okigwe Road, Owerri, told The Guardian she was not interested in the exercise again because of fear of being a victim.

She said: “Look at the volume of violence during the last elections. What is the guarantee that our votes will count when ballot boxes and materials were taken away and results re-written? Our votes will not count, I am afraid. We need assurances and protection from the security.”

But the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Operations, Wilfred Afolabi, told stakeholders recently that they had observed the lapses and would beef up security at various polling units, with overhaul and further briefings and personnel done and deployed.

Two clerics in Owerri, the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Ecclesiastic Province, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna and Bishop Geoffrey Okorafor of the Diocese of Egbu, Anglican Communion, charged INEC to beef up or tighten security to guarantee the safety of voters.

In C’River, Police Ready For Troublemakers
From Tina Todo, Calabar

RESIDENTS of Cross River State said the elections would not experience voter apathy, as witnessed in the last elections, as they would be electing their local representatives at the state level.

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Sunday Egbe said: “Surely, propaganda and lies in politics always result to voter apathy, but I am so sure that people will come out to vote, because this election has to do with the state. Parties also are supposed to do their work, in terms of educating the people and advising them to come out to vote.

“I believe this election will be different from what we had the last time. I am going to vote and I think Cross Riverians too will come out to vote on that day.”

A traditional leader, Edidem Patrick Oqua, blamed voter apathy on religious leaders, noting: “It is the religious people that have caused this situation.

People think that they can sit down in the church or mosque to pray, instead of urging the people to go out to vote. Whether we pray from now till night, angels will not come down to vote; it is human beings.

“Human beings should leave prayers and vote first. When they finish, they can go back to pray, so that they can contribute to choose the person they want to lead this country.”

The state Police Command has warned those in possession of illegal weapons to surrender them to the command, urging all political parties, their candidates and supporters to play by the rule and abide by all electoral laws to avoid recurrence of pockets of violence recorded in some parts of the state during the last elections.

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Commissioner of Police, Austine Agbonlahor, gave the warning in a press release signed by the Police Public Relation Officer, Irene Ugbo, adding that the Command was prepared for the elections.

Taraba Community Vows To Boycott Polls Over Soldiers’ Attack
From Charles Akpeji, Jalingo

RECENT military attack on Karim Moundi village of Karim-Lamido Council of Taraba State would no doubt impact negatively on today’s elections, as the people vowed to boycott the exercise, pending when the military is called to order.

The face off between the natives and the soldiers, who are presently camped in a primary school in the community, was said to have started from the market square before spreading to the entire village.

The attack, which led to the death of no fewer than three persons, with several others injured, is now making the people to have a second thought about the elections.

For them to participate, appropriate measures must be put in place to check the soldiers, who they accused of deviating from their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives, especially of the innocent ones, to “intimidating, harassing, maiming and killing innocent citizens.”

For fear of further attacks, some persons, who spoke to The Guardian expressed dismay at the way and manner “soldiers have been making us to live in fear, despite our peaceful coexistence here.”

In tears, a man whose two sons were killed by stray bullet during the upheaval, charged the federal government to bring all the soldiers that carried out the mayhem that led to loss of lives in the community to book.

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He narrated his ordeals: “When they shot one of my children, my second son rushed to the scene to rescue him, only for them to shoot him too. While one of them died on the spot, the other died in the hospital.”

“My two sons were my only sources of living. It would have been better for them to kill me than killing my sons, who are the pillars of my life.”

Special Adviser to the Governor on Community Health, Dr. Garba Badina, an indigene of the community, reckoned: “This would definitely affect today’s elections.”

Badina disclosed that stakeholders had been appealing to the people to bury the hatchets and come out in their large numbers to cast their votes today, just as he stressed the need for the federal government to caution the military and reach out to families of the victims.
Kwara: Make Or Mar For Saraki Dynasty

TODAY’S elections in Kwara State would determine the extinction or resurgence of the Saraki Dynasty that had ruled the state for years.

Following the dismal outing of the PDP political family in the last elections and the gains by the Oto ge mantra of the APC.

By the time the results are announced, it would be different strokes for different folks, between PDP and APC.

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Ogun And Imo: Amosun, Okorocha’s Epic Battles
EVEN though Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, are not contesting in today’s exercise, it is more of a referendum on their political clout. And the oppositions in their way are easy to surmount.

Amosun and Okorocha, both of who have been suspended from APC for anti-party activities, are sponsoring their preferred candidates on the platform of their own political parties.

If their godsons win, they would raise their heads high and Amosun can even increase the height of his cap, but if they lose, more troubles lie ahead for them; hence it could turn out to be do-or-die, politically, for them.

Rivers: Walkover For PDP, But APC Plays Spoiler
IN Rivers State, one of the most volatile spots in the country, the disqualification of the APC from today’s elections has only reduced, but not eliminated the possibility of violence.

While it appears to be a walkover for PDP, the APC would surely try to play the spoiler, if it could.

Considering the past antecedents, all eyes are on the security agencies, particularly the military, to live up to expectation by securing lives and properties during and after the polls.


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