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Police deploy 22 armoured vehicles, 20 gunboats, 2 helicopters

Police deploy 22 armoured vehicles, 20 gunboats, 2 helicopters

IGP, Ibrahim Idris

The police yesterday declared its readiness for today’s governorship election in Ondo State with the deployment of 22 armoured vehicles, 20 gunboats, 2 helicopters

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, said anyone found inducing voters with money would be arrested, no matter how highly placed.

The DIG, who is the ground commander-in-charge of Ondo governorship election, said every arrangement had been made to ensure there were no security breaches.

Habila is being assisted by two Assistant Inspectors-General of Police Paul Okafor of Zone 11 and E. S. Saha of the Air Wing.

Each senatorial zone is headed by a commissioner of police.

The DIG said over 26,000 policemen had been deployed to ensure a smooth election.

According to him, there are 3,009 polling units, each to be manned by at least five policemen to be assisted by men of sister agencies such as the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the army, among others.

He said the 203 wards in the state would be adequately policed.

He said: “The IGP in his magnanimity has given us over 20 gunboats which will take care of the riverine areas. We also have our horses and sniffer dogs that will be used when the need arises.

“Two helicopters have been provided that will take care of the airspace and for surveillance. We have 344 hilux vehicles. More are coming.

“We have 12 additional armoured personnel carriers in addition to the 10 that were on ground.”

Habila said no one should go near a polling unit with more than N5,000. This, he said, is a way of checking voter inducement.

“Our men are motivated to do their job. We’re appealing to Ondo people to come out en masse to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.

“We’re warning anyone who may have any negative thoughts to perish it because they will surely meet their waterloo,” he said.

He said his men were working in harmony with INEC to ensure that materials got to polling units on time and in safety.

The Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Femi Johnson, added that an inter-agency security committee was set up to ensure maximum security.

He said the DIG met with the Military Brigade Commander, 32 Artillery, as well as Controllers of Prisons, Immigration, the Department of State Services Director, among others.

“All the sister agencies are working together and supporting one another to ensure a hitch-free election,” he said.

He said there would be intensive stop-and-search of vehicles travelling through the highways, such as the Benin-Ore Road, which he said would not be completely locked down.

He said there would be restriction of movement within the state as from 12 am yesterday until about 8pm today to ensure there were no infiltrators.

“Most times we have discovered that elections will dovetail till 8pm or later and you see people misbehaving while the election processes are still ongoing. That is why we appeal to our people to cooperate with us.

“The Inspector-General of Police has done everything that is required to ensure a hitch-free election. Anything that has to do with security is already in place,” he said.

Also yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared its readiness to conduct a hitch-free governorship election in the state.

INEC pledges hitch-free election

Former INEC Acting Chairman, Amina Bala Zakari, said effort would be made to avoid an inconclusive election.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Segun Agbaje, said all electoral materials had been distributed.

He said the commission was more determined to prosecute anyone who violated the Electoral Act.

Zakari and Agbaje spoke when they briefed international observers, including representatives of the United Kingdom, German and the Netherlands embassies at the INEC headquarters in Akure.

Residents were seen in last minute shopping as they prepare for today’s polls. The markets and banks were busy.

Agbaje dispelled rumours that the election had been postponed till December 19. He said the poll would hold today as scheduled.

He said sensitive materials were distributed on Thursday and yesterday to the Local Government Areas, from where they will be taken to the polling units today.

Agbaje said smart card readers had been configured to ensure that voting does not go beyond the stipulated time.

He said when fully charged, the machines could work for 10 hours.

According to him, that effort was being made to ensure there were little or no hitches.

The REC said accreditation and voting would be done simultaneously which he believes would “help capture more voters”.

On security, he said no fewer than five policemen would man a polling unit. He said motorised armed police patrol would be on standby to be called upon in case of emergency.

“The whole state will be locked down,” he added.

Agbaje said the commission engaged in “sound and vigorous” voter education, adding that ad-hoc staff were also trained and deployed.

“The voter education focused on the need for peaceful elections and to shun apathy,” he said.

He warned against buying of votes, saying anyone caught would be arrested.

Any voter who displays a ballot after voting is also liable to be arrested and prosecuted, he said.

“Some people will vote and display for somebody somewhere to see who they voted for so as to pay them. This violate the secrecy of balloting. Such people, both the voter and the person paying, will be apprehended,” he said.

The REC said every effort would be made to ensure there no inconclusive election, adding: “We don’t have any plan for an inconclusive election because we don’t anticipate it.”

Zakari said spare result sheets were available to cover for eventualities, such as attacks or accidents that may result in loss of result sheets.

“We’ll not accept inconclusive election or a situation where someone will go to an opponent’s local government area and ask us to cancel authentic results,” she said.

According to the former Acting INEC chair, having inconclusive election ought not always to be seen as a negative outcome.

“An inconclusive election is not always a bad thing. It is always to guarantee fairness in places where elections could not hold for some reason,” she said.

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