For fear of possible breach of security and attack on citizens, the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the September 10, 2016 governorship election in Edo State.
The security agencies said the call follows credible intelligence available to them which indicate that there may be terror attacks during next week’s Sallah holidays, particularly in Edo State.
The electoral umpire, INEC, however said yesterday that it was yet to get a formal security report from the security agencies calling for the postponement of Saturday’s election.
According to the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Don Awunah, and his DSS counterpart, Tony Opuiyo, who was represented by Garba Abdullahi, at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, it was in the light of the intelligence gathered that the appeal for the postponement of the election became pertinent.
DCP Awunah, in a statement he read during the briefing, said: “The Nigeria Police and the DSS wish to inform the general public that credible intelligence availed to the agencies indicate plans by insurgent/extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high populations during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between September 12 and 13, 2016.
“Edo State is among the states being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements. It is in regard of this that we are appealing to INEC, which has legal duty to regulate elections in the country, to consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo State in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorists threats.
“While the police/DSS remain mindful of the inconveniences this request may cause the various political stakeholders, it is our strong resolve that security agencies need not be distracted from ensuring a peaceful and secure Nigeria now and always.”
The security agencies, however, assured members of the public that they will continue to remain focused and committed to their security.
INEC’s deputy director, Voter Education and Publicity (VEP), Mr Nick Dazang, noted that the electoral commission had no official communication from any of the security agencies relating to the postponement of the polls.
He further said that INEC had just concluded a stakeholders’ meeting in Edo State, and that the commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, was planning to make another visit to the state to finalise plans ahead of the polls.
“As a matter of fact, we got the information from the media. Some of your colleagues have been calling; that’s how we got to know about it.
“We’ve just finished stakeholders’ meeting there. The chairman and other national commissioners are meeting here. Maybe subsequently, we will have an idea. In fact, we will have to confirm the veracity of that statement,” he declared.
PDP kicks, advises against false alarm
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership yesterday kicked against the call by the police and DSS for the postponement of Saturday’s Edo State governorship election on grounds of an insurgency alert, describing it as a false alarm.
The opposition party, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the security agencies to order, stressing that it was taken aback that the alert came a day after he (the president) attended a rally of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benin City, which was concluded without any hitch.
A statement by PDP’s national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, advised INEC not to succumb to the alarm.
The party wondered why the security agencies saw no reason to call off a recently conducted Senatorial by-election in Borno State, which is a high-point of insurgency in the country.
“Our attention has been drawn to the shocking breaking news of the advise by the DSS and the Police to INEC to postpone the Saturday, September 10, 2016 gubernatorial election in Edo State on the excuse of insurgency alert.
“We are taken aback by this advise coming a day after the president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was present at the mega rally of its party, the APC, in Benin City, which was concluded without any hitch.
“It is on record that INEC recently conducted a ‘hitch free’ Senatorial By-Election in Borno State which is a high-point of insurgency in the country but the security agencies saw no reason to call-off the election. It is therefore lamentable to hear from these same security agencies that election cannot be held in a state where in less than 24 hours, the president and all the APC leaders and members had an uninterrupted rally.
“We are calling on the President, Muhammadu Buhari to caution the security agencies and direct them to provide full security and also to desist from doing anything that will jeopardise this forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State. We are equally counting on INEC not to succumb to this false alarm by acting independently and holding election as scheduled.
“We hope that this advise from the security agencies is not in concert with the APC, having seen the indices of losing the Edo State gubernatorial election to the PDP,” the party stated.
The Senator Makarfi-led PDP called on its members, supporters, other Edo voters and the international community to remain law-abiding “while staying alert on this calculated attempt at scuttling our hard-earned democracy.”
Also in a reaction yesterday, the PDP governorship candidate in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, accused the APC of being behind the call for the postponement of the election, using what he termed “DSS and police fake security report.”
According to him, the APC had developed cold feet because he had established a comfortable lead over its (APC’s) candidate, Godwin Obaseki, according to A new opinion poll conducted by a media research and marketing organisation, Samrex Communications Ltd.
Data from the survey supervised by Dr Ubani Azuka, and released on Tuesday, showed that the lead which Obaseki had enjoyed in Edo North had hugely declined, compared to the last survey.
The report said that the survey, which targeted 23,000 respondents cut across the three senatorial districts, was carried out between August 1 and September 2, 2016.
The latest report by the organisation, which targeted likely voters by telephone and online survey in the three senatorial districts – Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North – showed Ize-Iyamu to have the support of 75 per cent of the electorate in Edo South, 77 per cent in Edo Central, and 47 per cent in Edo North versus 25 per cent, 22 per cent and 53 per cent of the respondents who said they supported Obaseki.
The survey said that many of the respondents based their decision on the neglect of their communities, unfulfilled promises by the government, huge corruption within the state government, high cost of living, bad roads and abandoned projects in their areas.
On the other hand, those who promised to vote for the APC generally based their decision on the renovation of schools; the promise to build industries to generate income and create jobs; loans to farmers and small scale business owners and provision of potable water and youth empowerment.
They also said they wanted somebody who would sustain Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s legacies.