The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, yesterday warned political actors in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States against threatening the nation’s democracy and security, saying the force will not hesitate to bring them to justice.
The IGP who issued the warning yesterday during a conference with the commanders of the 79 Police Mobile Force (PMF) at the Force headquarters, Abuja, cautioned all political gladiators to situate all their electioneering activities within the dictates of rule of law.
While the Edo election holds on September 19, the Ondo poll is billed for October 10.
The IGP said, “I strongly warn all political gladiators and the electorate in Edo and Ondo States to situate all their electioneering activities within the dictates of rule of law.
“I affirm that anyone, regardless of his or her political leaning, that attempts to test our will by threatening our democratic values and national security on account of his or her electoral interests shall be promptly identified, isolated, and brought to desired justice”.
IGP Adamu however charged commanders of the 79 PMF Squadrons spread across the nation to exhibit high-level professionalism, neutrality and embrace a citizen-friendly approach in policing the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
He said the conference centred on the deployment of the PMF for the elections and general review of the current internal security threats in the country.
He said it also availed the Force leadership the opportunity to further re-strategise on best approaches on mitigating security threats particularly as contained in the Election Security Threat Assessment Reports.
The IGP also noted that the PMF which has remained at the forefront of tactical operations in the country is central to the operational plans of the Force towards a successful election in the two States.
The police boss who observed that the elections were coming on the heels of the just concluded PMF Commanders’ course held at Ende Hills, Nasarawa State, charged the officers to take advantage of the new insights and experiences drawn from the training to positively impact their leadership roles in the elections and beyond.
Adamu further assured residents in Edo and Ondo States of the preparedness of the Nigeria Police Force in conjunction with other security agencies and other critical stakeholders in the elections, to ensure the success of the forthcoming elections in the two states.
They Must Guard Their Utterances – INEC
In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday expressed concern over the unsavory comments by political actors ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship election.
The electoral umpire lamented that such comments could stir violence and truncate the governorship elections in the two states.
Speaking at a webinar organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) entitled, “Edo/Ondo Elections: The imperative of Safety Consciousness and Conflict Sensitivity in Media Coverage and Reportage’’ the chief press secretary of the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, however assured that regardless of the threats and utterances, INEC would conduct a credible and fair election.
He said, “As we approach the Edo Governorship election, it is clear that the good people of the state and Nigerians as a whole are very concerned about what will happen on election day.
“We have all been hearing the loud drumbeats of war from political actors. There have been accusations and counter-accusations. Just like everybody else, the Commission is deeply concerned. To be sure, INEC is ready for the election. Indeed, we are determined to conduct the election despite the current difficult circumstances,” he said.
He also assured journalists of their safety during the polls.
He stated: “To that extent, regardless of the not-so-pleasant experiences Journalists might have experienced with security agents during elections in the past, they rest assured of good experience this time around”.
He noted that of the 14 activities listed in the timetable that was released in February, the commission has executed 12.
“The only two left are the deadline for campaigns – 17th September and the election proper slated for 19th September. All the logistics needed for the election have been taken care of.
The non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the 18 local government areas of the state.
“Our electoral officers, their assistants and supervisory presiding officers have been trained. Officers nominated by the various security agencies under the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) have also been trained and their actions will be guided by the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty”.
As APC, PDP Wrangle Over Oba Of Benin’s Peace Pact
In spite of the peace pact entered by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic (PDP) at the instance of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, the two major parties in the forthcoming governorship elections have traded blames over an alleged violent incident that happened over the weekend in the state.
The Benin monarch had last week summoned Governor Godwin Obaseki of PDP and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of APC alongside leaders of both parties to his palace over the violence that was trailing the campaigns.
Both candidates had at the meeting committed to ensuring no-violence for the rest of the electioneering process.
But the truce was threatened over the weekend following an allegation by the APC that PDP agents attacked its members at Ewu in Esan Central local government area who were putting up posters of their governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu.
Leader of Ewu youth APC Campaign Council, and former special adviser to the Council chairman, Hon Clement Inegben, alleged that he was attacked at the Ewu Police Station around 8pm on Friday after he was summoned to the station.
Another youth, simply identified as Aguni, also alleged that PDP loyalists descended on him and other APC with dangerous weapons while they were installing mini billboards.
He further called on the authorities and the public to save them from the antics of the Council chairman, whom he accused of having formed the habit of harassing those who have refused to accompany him to PDP.
Reacting to the development, the APC candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, enjoined the youths to maintain their peaceful disposition which they had adopted from the beginning of the campaign.
He expressed disappointment that after the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, had extracted commitment from leaders of all political groups and other stakeholders to maintain peace throughout the period of the election, the PDP still stuck to the use of violence.
Other APC Leaders in Ewu, including a former speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon David Iyoha and a former commissioner, Hon Larry Aghedo, prevailed on the youths to stick nobly to peace and tranquillity.
But in a swift reaction, the PDP said the claims of attack by the APC members were contrived to get the election postponed.
Addressing journalists in Benin, the state publicity secretary of PDP, Chris Nehikhare, stated that after the peace talk at Oba’s palace, no member of the PDP has carried out any attack.
“The PDP has worked on the Oba’s peace pact. In the last few days there was no reported attack. Since the Oba spoke on this issue, we have been cautious. APC is trying to contrive violence to postpone the election”, Nehikhare said while challenging APC to show evidence of attack on their members.
He added: “APC should stop contriving violence because election would hold on September 19 and APC would be roundly defeated.”
Nehikhare however said that the success of the election depends on the role of INEC, stressing that the PDP as a party is committed to peaceful election.