Rising from a stakeholders meeting in Abuja ahead of the September 10 Edo State governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police, yesterday, assured that adequate logistic and security arrangements have been put in place for a hitch free and secure polls.
The stakeholders met under the aegis of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security at INEC’s headquarters in Abuja. The meeting was chaired by the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu.
A statement from the chief press secretary to INEC chairman, Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, disclosed that the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike assured that about 22,603 policemen will be deployed for the election, aside several officers to be contributed by other security agencies.
Ezike, according to the statement, added that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) was advised at a recent meeting to shelve the conduct of the 2016 Nov/Dec Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), scheduled to hold on the election day.
He noted that since the state would be locked down throughout the day, with movement restricted, it would be impossible for candidates writing the examination to move about to their respective centres. He said WAEC was also advised to relocate the candidates to nearby states for the examination.
The CP who was quoted as describing the election as a litmus test for the new Inspector General of Police, added that the police in the state began preparations several months ago.
He said: “If there is a way we can mitigate violence, our election will be conclusive. Since September 2015, we have made 870 arrests, while 525 suspects have been charged to court. Over 248 individuals have renounced cultism and some 248 small arms have now been recovered.”
He said a show of force would be conducted on August 31, while a number of helicopters would be deployed for surveillance purposes during the election.
He assured: “for the Edo election, we are good to go. We will not give room for ballot snatching and we will enforce the no-movement order to the letter.”
On his part, the Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Sam Olumekun said the total number of registered voters in the state at the moment stood at 1,925,105.
According to him, the state has 18 local governments areas, six of which are riverine in nature. The state has 192 Wards, 2,627 Polling Units and 4,011 Voting points.
He explained that in accordance with Section 46 of the Electoral Act (as amended), the public was served with the notice of the election on June 1, while the notice of polls was published on August 27. Distribution of the old Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) was done simultaneously with the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise between June 22 and 26, while distribution is continuing at the local government offices. New voters, numbering135, 877 registered during the exercise, but over 400,000 PVCs remained collected.
Olumekun averred that both the publication of the Voters’ Register and the presentation of soft copies to political parties took place on August 11. To fulfill the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act, he said congresses of political parties were monitored between June 2 and July 4, while the observation of the on-going political campaigns started since June 2.
The use of hate speeches and unethical comments were noticed and an enlightenment workshop was quickly organised to remind party leaders of the sanctions applicable and the need to maintain decorum.
An interactive session on how to curb violence during the poll was also held on June 2. Olumekun assured that the state “has adequate number of smart card readers.”
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who chaired the meeting, commended the Police for putting a robust security arrangement in place.