There is anxiety in the polity as no fewer than 837 candidates including 24 women go to battle tomorrow for 28 governorship seats. Also, 10,240 standard bearers are jostling for 993 state assembly slots in the polls which have sparked anxiety following the outcome of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections that caused many upsets across the country.
The 24 women, who are angling to be the first elected female governor in Nigeria, are doing so in 18 states.
Meanwhile, following fears of violence and allegations of plots to rig the polls, the Police have declared their readiness to ensure hitch-free and credible exercises and deployed their men to all parts of the country.
This came as top politicians in Lagos urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to transmit results of tomorrow’s elections electronically to its result viewing portal in real-time from the polling units unlike what it did during the February 25 polls.
Ondo police warn miscreants against hijacking poll
The Ondo Police Command, yesterday, warned miscreants against hijacking the electoral process during Saturday’s elections across the state.
The Police Command also received additional anti-riot and crowd control equipment to enhance Police service delivery during the election.
It equally warned parents not to allow their children/wards to be used as instruments of harassment and disruption of the elections.
The Police Commissioner, Oyeyemi Oyediran, in a statement, said: “The Ondo State Police Command has deployed personnel of the Police Mobile Force and Special Protective Unit to escort all INEC sensitive and non-sensitive materials to all the local government areas.
“All relevant stakeholders were addressed on the need to maintain peace during the last phase of this election.”
15,000 security personnel deployed to Oyo
Also, 15,000 security personnel including Police, Army and other agencies have been deployed to monitor the governorship/house of assembly elections in Oyo State.
Heads of security agencies met yesterday, at the Police Command Headquarters.
Appraising their performance in the last presidential election, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Adebowale Williams, who read the communiqué, assured residents of the preparation of the security agencies to effectively carry out their functions by assuring the safety of lives and property during and after the conduct of the election.
He added that all the 6,393 polling units across the 33 local government areas will be policed effectively.
15,000 police officers, other security agents deployed to Delta
In Delta, Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the South-South zone, Mr. Moses Jitoboh, said that no fewer than 15,000 security agents have been deployed across Delta State for the elections.
Jitoboh, who made the disclosure in Asaba, said 11,000 police officers and 4,000 operatives from sister security agencies would be on duty.
Debunking rumours that an unnamed governorship candidate influenced the deployment of three commissioners of police to the state to allegedly assist him in compromising the process, he said the operatives would demonstrate high level of professionalism in discharging their assigned roles during the election.
He told residents of the state to go about their lawful duties and come “out on Election Day and vote for the candidates of their choice without fear of molestation.”
We’re ready for polls in Imo — Police
In Imo, the state Police Command, yesterday, said its men are prepared to provide security for the polls.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Henry Okoye, told reporters that “sequel to the Imo State Police Command commitment to provide adequate security for the smooth conduct of a peaceful, secured and credible election, the Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Ahmed Barde, has ordered a strict enforcement of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba directives to continuously mop-up illicit arms/ammunition and stem down the tide of insecurity in the State.
“The CP has mandated Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and Tactical Team Commanders to embark on intensive visibility policing, intelligence-led, stop and search, Operation Show of Force with other sister security agencies across all major/feeder roads of the state while ensuring that officers and men observe the Standard Operational Procedure (SOP), adopt the best professional ethics and maintain the highest sense of neutrality in delivering a modernized civil oriented and human rights compliant Police service during the election.
“The command having done a comprehensive appraisal of the security measures put in place during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, have emplaced enhanced security strategies to ensure that the State House of Assembly Election slated for 18th March 2023, is more peaceful and secured. As such, the command is assiduously working in synergy with other sister security agencies, with the exception of the local security outfits and has emplaced a robust security apparatus, spreading its security tentacles across all INEC Offices, Collation Centers, Polling Units and other sensitive locations across the 27 LGAs in the state to guarantee the safety of INEC Officials, Electoral materials, Electorates, Local and Foreign Observers and other residents of the state during and after the forthcoming Election.”
INEC personnel caught undermining polls ‘ll face prosecution- Benue REC
Meanwhile, the INEC has warned that its personnel caught engaging in activities to undermine the polls would be prosecuted.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Benue State, Prof. Sam Egwu sounded the warning Thursday in a statement issued in Makurdi.
He said the Commission was bothered by the perception that some of the ad-hoc staff were working with politicians to influence the outcome of elections.
Part of the statement read in part: “The Commission in Benue State is deeply troubled by the widely shared perception that some persons appointed as ad hoc staff in positions such as Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs}, Collation Officers (COs) and polling level staff (Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers) work at the behest of politicians with the aim of influencing outcome of elections. The Commission frowns at the conduct of ad hoc staff who deliberately seek to undermine the credibility of election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 120 of the 2022 Electoral Act provides that officers on election duty who, without lawful excuse, commit acts or omit to act in breach of official duty for which they have sworn to an oath of neutrality will be prosecuted, and, if convicted, shall be imprisoned. This applies to all the ad-hoc mentioned above. The term of imprisonment is three years for Collation officers and 12 months for presiding officers and other polling-level staff.
INEC must transmit results electronically — George, Olanrewaju, Bucknor-Akerele
Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George; former Minister of Communications, Gen. Tajudeen Olarenwaju (retd); and former deputy governor of Lagos State, Kofoworaola Bucknor -Akerele, yesterday, urged the Chairman of the INEC, Professor Mahmood Yabuku, to ensure that tomorrow’s elections are not a repeat of the February 25 elections insisting that results of the polls must be transmitted electronically.
They spoke under the aegis of Omo Eko Pataki Forum.
They also urged security agencies to prevent any form of crisis during and after the polls.
Addressing members of the forum in Lagos, the leader of the forum, Chief Olabode George urged the electorate not to be intimidated when they cast their votes on Saturday.
Notable personalities present at the event include former Communications Minister, General Tajudeen Olarenwaju (retd); former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworaola Akerele-Bucknor; the governorship candidate of Labour Party, LP, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour; Director-General of the Obi-Datti Campaign Council, Chief Akin Osuntokun.
Others are the former Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mrs. Roli Bode-George; governorship candidate of Boot Party, Mr Wale Oluwo; Mr Olawale Rhodes-Vivour among others.
In his address, George insisted that INEC must ensure the electronic transfer of results rather than the unreliable, archaic, manual system.
He said: “It is with a good sense of humility and responsibility that I make one final call to all compatriots of Lagos to stand united in our collective struggle to save the soul of our State.
This is our finest hour to immortalize the memory of our dear son, the late Engr. Funsho Williams. We must not let his contributions be in vain. On this premise, the Omo Eko Pataki group, a new socio-political movement, is born to ensure that our electoral process in Lagos will be free, fair and just. We insist on the use of Electronic transfer of results rather than the unreliable, archaic, manual system. O to ge.
“We seek freedom for all: Freedom for the underprivileged, Freedom for the poor, freedom for the rich. We must ensure that we eradicate selfish governance in our State.
All registered voters must come out to cast their votes without fear. On this, I appeal to all security agencies to ensure protection of lives and properties of our people. All marauders and violent thugs must be arrested and be treated according to the laws of our land.
“We appeal to Professor Mahmood Yakubu to do the right thing and save Nigeria from being the butt of jokes in the comity of Nations.
It is now or never. This is not a matter of any political party. Omo Eko Pataki group is a movement to freedom. Join the ship of liberty to arrive safely at the Promised land full of Milk and Honey.”
Olanrewaju faults those playing ethnic politics
Also speaking, former Communications Minister, General Olarenwaju, retd, faulted those playing the ethnic cards in Lagos insisting that Gbadebo remains a bonafide Lagos indigene.
Don’t be intimidated – Bucknor-Akerele
In her remarks, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Akerele-Bucknor urged the electorate not to be intimidated on Election Day.
She said: “On Saturday, they will do everything to intimidate you so that you won’t come out and vote. Don’t be intimidated; be vigilant when you go out to cast your vote.”
Female gov candidates include Aishatu Dahiru, APC, Adamawa; Gladys Johnson-Ogbuneke, SDP, Abia; Lancaster Okoro, PRP, Abia; Ekanem Abasiekeme, AAP, A/Ibom; Udoh Emem Monday, SDP, A/Ibom; Roseline Chenge, ADP, Benue; Aondona Dabo-Adzuana, ZLP, Benue; Abubakar Fatima, ADP, Borno; and Ibiang Marikana Stanley. ADP, C/River
Others are Onokiti Helen Agboola, Accord, Delta; Cosmas Annabel, APP, Delta; Chinenye Igwe, APM, Ebonyi; Ogochukwu Nweze, SDP, Enugu; Umar Binta Yahaya, AA, Jigawa; Yakubu Furera Ahmad, BP, Kano; Mahmud Aisha, NRM, Kano; Motunrayo Jaiyeola, APM, Kwara; and Funmilayo Kupoliyi, APM, Lagos.
Alsi included are Roseline Adeyemi, APP, Lagos; Patricia Tsakpa, ADP, Nasarawa; Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya, APGA, Niger; Aduragbemi Euba, YPP, Oyo; Beatrice Itubo, LP, Rivers; and Hadiza Usman ZLP, Zamfara
There’s life after elections, NOA reminds Nigerians
Meanwhile, the National Orientation Agency, NOA, has called on Nigerians to desist from negative acts that will lead to violence before, during and after elections as “there is life after elections.”
The Director General of the agency, Garba Abare, made the call in Kano, yesterday, at a media dialogue preparatory to tomorrow’s elections.
He called on politicians to desist from inflammatory language and stop the unnecessary overheating of the polity.
“I want Nigerians to remember that whatever happens, there is life after elections. You should reflect on the need for peace and as journalists, reflect the same in your daily reportage.
“If we lose the peace we are enjoying today, we will all be losers tomorrow. Remember, it is easier to destroy than to build,” he said.
Why we awarded the printing contract to Binani Publishing — INEC
Meanwhile, the INEC has explained its decision to award a contract for the printing of sensitive materials to a company, Binani Printing Press, allegedly founded by the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Adamawa State, Hajia Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, also known as ‘Binani’.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement on Thursday night, said at the point of award, Binani was not listed as a director in the company.
He said: “Our attention has been drawn to a news report that the Commission awarded a contract for the printing of sensitive election materials to Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed. It was alleged in the report that she owns Binani Printing Press Limited.
“Procurements in the Commission go through open competitive bidding and Binani Printing Press Limited was one of the security printing companies that applied to print security documents for the Commission.
“After inspecting the company’s facility and carrying out due diligence at the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC, the Commission was satisfied that they are qualified printers with the requisite technical capacity, security consciousness and expertise in printing security documents. However, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed was not listed as one of the Directors of Binani Printing Press Limited.
“The Commission decided to print all the security documents for the 2023 General Election in the country to help Nigerian printers and assist in growing the national economy.
“The Commission will continue to carry out due diligence in its procurement activities”.
The online news outlet, Sahara Reporters said it obtained the contract documents on Wednesday which were signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony.
It said Binani Printing Press, owned by the APC candidate was awarded N434,372,649 to print election results sheets for the 2023 general elections.