28,000 security operatives for polls, flash points identified
US declares process peaceful
The police on Friday warned governors and other politicians alleged to be in Osun State to respect the Electoral Act and stay away from election areas or face arrest.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Josak Habila and the coordinator of the joint security Taskforce for the election stated this during separate meetings with observers from National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) as well as the United States Mission at the state command headquarters in Osogbo.
Habila was answering questions from the leader of the observers’ delegation, John Tomaszweski who asked what the police would do to some governors said to be in the state.
He said: “I do not know if there are governors in the state. Maybe, they came to give supports to their members and friends but they must know that they are not to be found anywhere elections are going on.
“They should also respect the restriction of movement because anyone caught breaking the rules will be dealt with no matter how highly placed.”
On the fears about vote buying, Habila said the ban on the use of mobile phones as well as the deployment of six uniformed security agents per polling unit were meant to address that situation, adding that intelligence squad have also been deployed to various parts of the state.
On the strength of security operatives deployed for the exercise, the DIG said there were 28,000 comprising the police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Directorate of State Services (DSS) and the military.
Also, a Police Mobile Force unit (PMF) comprising 63 operatives and 10 patrol vehicles has been deployed to each of the local government areas of the state.
He denied allegations that too many security operatives were deployed to the state, noting that the deployment was lesser than what was obtained in Ekiti.
Habila said: “Remember there was a lot of outcry, allegations that Ekiti was an army of occupation and police brought in a large number of people to intimidate and prevent people from voting. That was not true. Those who were in Ekiti saw the street and saw that just the needed security. There was no overflow of security.
“For this election, we decided to deploy lesser than the number during Ekiti. One of the reasons for this decision was that Osun has been known to be peaceful. In the last two years, Osun has been one of the states with the lowest crime rate. Secondly, we ensured we deployed the minimally required because we do not want to waste human and material resources.
“For this election, we have 28,000 security operatives. That is for the police and other security services. I belief there are sponsors who have written a script and are rehearsing it.
“We will not give opportunity for anyone to do so. We will not occupy any place to intimidate or oppress anyone. We are as ready as ever to ensure that this election is peaceful.
“We have learnt lessons from previous elections and so, we want to see on Saturday, a civil and helpful security. A security that will give an insight of a more improved security come 2019 general elections.
“We have men on standby duty, patrol and we have posted some to national assets that people could vandalize if they are not pleased with results of the elections. We made preparations for five days before and five days after elections. “That is what we are doing. We are careful in ensuring we do not just protect the process but also protect vulnerable public facility in Osun State as a whole. At the moment, there has been no request for boats in Osun State but the contiguous states like Ondo and Ibadan have standby boats.
“Remember we also deployed helicopters for this election so, we can do ground to air communication. We will give our best to this election.”
The DIG said electoral materials were received by the commander in charge of protection on Friday morning, adding that operatives deployed for their safety were already protecting them.
“As I speak, electoral materials have been taken to registration area council and super registration area council. There, they will be pinned down and tomorrow morning, these materials will get to the various wards and polling units.
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“A lot of the policemen are standing at the point where they will provide security to ballot box, INEC officials and others including observers. We are prepared. Our morale are high because the federal government provided our allowances.
“The instruction was given to the Inspector-General of Police and he complied. We got our alerts a long time ago from our finance department. Other security agencies confirmed to me that they have paid their men. So, morale of security personnel are very high and we are ready to work and have our money in our pocket,” he said.
Emphasizing that there would be restriction of movement, Habila said it would commence by 12am.
“This election is for Osun people not Ondo or any neighboring state. You do not have business coming in. That is why we will lock down the state so that those who want to come in can let us know their reason.
“I have visited various parts of the state to access the presence of policemen and the tempo. We have done threat analyses in the past and updated them on arrival for this election.
“So far, the state has been peaceful. Pre-election activities including campaign and rallies went on peacefully. I expect Saturday’s election to be peaceful too.
“That notwithstanding, we have very encompassing contingency plans. We know there are flash points and so, we brought in the tactical squad (Police Mobile Force), the Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) department, the IGP Intelligence Unit, the Force Animal branch- Sniffer and Attack dogs.
“We have all sections including other security agencies. We have Mobile Policemen on standby for visibility policing. They will continue to avoid the polling units but will patrol all flash points so that response to distress calls will be swift. So that there would not be incidence of harassment, molestation.
“We want to create a very conducive atmosphere for people to come out and cast their votes. We intend to add quality and uphold the integrity of the election. This is about the last stand-alone election and we want to give it the best.
“We want other countries especially African nations to learn from us. This election will be civil and we will perform to international standard. Accredited journalists will not be restricted from doing their jobs. All INEC has said is that voters will not be allowed to take their phones to voting points.
They should drop it for a minute or two. We will support INEC to ensure that directive is complied with.
“The Electoral Act 2011 clearly spelled out offences on election day. If you shout the slogan of a political party, you have committed an offence.
“If you wear the dress of a party or aspirant, it is an offence. If you come in with a loud speak shouting the slogan of any party, it is an offence. If you canvass for vote or prevent anyone from voting, you have committed an offence.
If you snatch an electoral material from officials, it is an offence.
So, we will be looking out for offenders.”
During their visit, the Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Abuja, David Young said he was satisfied with the steps taken by the police and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to curb vote buying and other electoral malpractices that was of concern to them.
He also noted the peace in Osun State since his arrival, adding that there was improvement in this year’s election compared to previous ones.
28,000 security operatives for polls, flash points identified