By Lateef Adegbite and Elizabeth Chukuuma
Given the alleged massive rigging that had characterized the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections with the active collaboration of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, staff, at the Federal and state levels, the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, , the lead security agency, under the close watch of Usman Alkali Baba appears, to have tighten up security, across the 28 states of the Federation , where the elections are being conducted to forestall any rigging and vote buying.
The Value News findings shows that the security agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes , EFCC, under the Chairmanship of Abdulziz Bawa, have deployed more of their operatives to Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center and Rivers states, where the duo of governors Babajide Sanwo –Olu, who is seeking re-election bid and Nyensom Wike, fear desperate votes .
This is evident going by the recent happening in Lagos state.Ahead of the governorship and state Assembly elections, the Lagos state police Operatives, acting on information, had arrested a 53 year-old woman, believe d to be working for the APC. She was said to have been found with laminated INEC, sensitive electoral materials. That much was even confirmed by Benjamin Hundeyin, a Superintendent of Police and the Lagos Police Command, spokesperson.
The suspect, according to Hundeyin, the Lagos state Police Command spokesperson, was arrested on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, at Candos Road, Baruwa, in Iyana –Ipaja Area of the state . She was said to have been arrested in a business centre where she was making the photocopies. The question on the lips of most people was: How did the electoral umpire materials electoral materials get into her hand when she is not a staff.
She was said to have been arrested with over 550 different INEC, sensitive materials, that will be used in the governorship and state Assembly elections. But Many believe that there is no way she could have had access to the electoral materials without the collaboration of the state INEC , officials, working in collaboration with the ruling APC, in the state.
The worry of the police Authorities, for now was that despite using all the known tricks to make her volunteer valuable information on how she cam Mae about the materials, she has refused to do so, fueling speculations making the rounds of premeditated plans by the ruling APC, in the state to rig the election.
APC , loyalists fear that history might repeat itself in the state, where Peter Obi, a former governor of Anamra state and the LP, Presidential Candidate, in the just concluded Presidential, election, and who is challenging the electoral process and the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC, flag bearer , as the President –elect, by Mahmood Yakubu, in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The ruling APC, loyalists in Lagos state had attributed the former Anambra state governor defeat of Tinubu, in Lagos state to the Igbo residents votes, which may be far from the truth.
Going by the INEC, Presidential election results, as declared by Prof Yakubu, the Chairman, the APC , Candidate had polled 8, 794,726 votes, AtikuAbubakar, of the Opposion, People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Scored 6, 984,520 votes while Obi of the LP, garnered 6,101,533 votes, across the 36 states of the Federation.
Perhaps, to avoid a repeat of February 25, 203, Presidential elections, may have informed why Musiliu Akinsanya, popular, M.C. Oluomo, Chairman, Lagos state Parks and Management Committee, who has large followers, called Agberos, in the state while addressing supporters of APC, at a meeting, was said to have threatened the Igbos residents in the state who will not vote for Sanwo-Olu, the party governorship and other state Assembly Candidates to stay at home during the elections or risk being attacked.
The Lagos state Parks and Management Committee , Chairman, threat to the Igbo residents in Lagos, to stay at home , if they will not vote for the APC, Candidates in the governorship and state Assembly elections may have filtered into the ears of Baba, the IGP, at the police Headquarters, FCT.
The IGP, who could not take it was said to have directed Idowu Owohunwa, the Commissioner of Police, CP, overseeing the state Police Command to investigate the alleged inciteful comments credited to Oluomo.
The Lagos state Police Command, Commissioner, may have heeded to the IGP’s directive as he has started investigating matter but urged the Igbo Community to disregard ‘’the viral video making the rounds and see it as not true , stating ‘’ . The Police Authorities reportedly said that he was cracking a joke with a particular woman , who was said to have confirmed that it was really a joke.
Many believe that this may be hard to believe because of the recent destruction of Igbo traders’ shops at Alaba International market, Lagos Trade FIR Complex, Computer village, in Keja and Lagos Island and the recent destruction of Akere automobile parks market around the Olodi-Apapa Area of the state which was razed by fire. The police may have tried to douse the tension by saying ‘’the cause of the inferno has not been ascertained’’.
Sanwo-Olu, the APC, governorship Candidate, may have known that the destruction of the Akere auto Spare parts Parks market will rub him of substantial votes from the Igbo Community resident in the state in today, Saturday, March 18, 2023, the governorship election that he has kick-started the ‘’redevelopment of the market” .
He was said to have also donated N100 million to the affected traders to ease their pains, as a way to win their heart and encourage them to vote for him during the election. There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that he will not release the money to the affected Igbo traders if he loses the election to Rhodes- Vivour of the LP.He may have alluded to Oluomo, who, , many believe is working for him to win the governorship election when he said ‘’we must watch our utterances and ensure that we are not divisive’’.
What is happening in Lagos state may not be different from what is happening in Rivers state, where Wike, the state governor, had been accused by the Opposition APC and four other parties, including the LP, in the state, of plotting to rig the elections in favour of Simnayi Fubara, the PDP, Candidate governorship and other state Assembly Candidates.
The aggrieved parties were said to have petitioned the state CP, Okon Effiong Okon, alleging that the Rivers state governor is planning ‘’to clamp down on the Opposition parties in the state during the polls.
Aware of the too many interests in the governorship elections, across the country, may have informed why Uduakobong Udoh,the Akwa Ibom , state, LP , and 13 House of Assembly Candidates in the state ,have headed to a Federal High Court at the FCT, where they obtained a Judgment which was said to have ordered the electoral umpire ‘’to electronically upload the results of the governorship and state Assembly elections, to its ReV, in accordance with the regulations and guidelines of the 2022, electoral Act.
The APC, Leadership, may not have found this funny, as the party had challenged the Abuja, Federal High Court ruling, in a Federal High Court in Lagos. Whether the LP or any other party had gone to Court to force INEC to upload the results of the governorship and state Assembly elections to the REV, Prof, Yakubu, had said that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, will be deployed during the electons, assuring Nigerians that the results will to be transmitted electronically to tits server for public to view. . The transition Monitoring Group, TMG, would want the Commission ‘’to use the governorship and state Assembly elections to redeem its battered image by conducting credible elections across the county’’, this time around. INEC Authorities, are expecting a total of 87.2 million eligible voters , who have collected their Permanent Voter cards,, PVC, to troop out to the various polling units in their various states to vote for the Candidate and party of their choice.
Mid way into the elections, INEC, officials had raised alarm over fake identity cards for security personnel on election duty , ostensibly to rig. Festus Okoye, INEC, National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voters Education Committee, had made Nigerians to understand that identity cards for security personnel on election duty were issued by the security agencies and not he commission.
He was emphatic that that identity card of security personnel did not emerge from the Commission , stating that any security personnel bearing the name and logo of the Commission with the inscription complete access boldly written in red at the botton of it can only be illegal duty and should be reported to the police for being on illegal duty. Hear him: any such person is liable to arrest and prosecution.