Adamu Mohammed, the Inspector General of Police, IGP appears to have made adequate security arrangement to ensure that the Saturday, September 19, 2020, governorship election in the south-south state of Edo was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere devoid of troubles, by the Mahmood Yakubu, a professor, led Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Given the heightened tension and violence that had charactised the electioneering Campaign of Godwin Obaseki and Osagie Ize Iyamu, the governorship Candidates of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressive Congressive, APC, which may have informed why Mohammed, the IGP, deployed 31,000 Policemen to the state, he has mandated them to enforce the law to ensure Free, Fair and credible election in the south-south state.
Being the first governorship election to be conducted by the Commission in the country under the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular COVID 19, that had resulted in the lock down since March 23, 2020, the IGP, had informed the 31,000 Policemen to the state to enforce the restriction order during the election .The Police boss major concern, according to security sources is to ensure a Free Fair and credible election in the state.
Indeed, signs that there was already an established tight security in the state became pronounce on Thursday, September 17, 2020 as the Policemen deployed to the state enforces the restriction order. as They hadinsiseted that anyone without any business in Edo have no reason of being there. They fear that the intruders presence will cause crisis that may disrupt the election process in the state. Even motorists were not left out from the Policemen harassment as they created heavy traffic along the roads leading toBenin the state Capital from the Agbor axisis and Oil city of Warri, axisis thus, forcing most of the motorists heading to Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center to divert their movement to another route, terminatin at the Old Benin Tollgate, as a way of escaping the police harassment in order to continue their Journey
The message was very clear to the politicians, party tugs and their sponsors in the state that that it is no longer going to be business as usual as’’ they would not have the freedom to move freely to disrupt the election or collation of results’’. The Law Enforcement Officers were said to have identified the flash point areas of high security threat in the state as they were said to have restrategised on the best approach to deal with such threats.
The appearance of Nyensom Wike, a PDP, governor of the oil-rich Rivers state, in Benin, the state Capital, in his capacity as the party Chairman of the National Campaign Council, NCC, of the Edo governorship election may have encouraged the policemen, at the instance of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Coordination the operation and Johnson Kokumo, the state Commissioner of police, who may have acted on the instance of the IGP, to be on the red alert to forestall ,the Rivers governor, who is fared, from doing anything untoward that might influence the electorate to tilt the result in favour of his party, the PDP.
No fewer than 300 heavily arned Policemen, were said to have laid siege on the hotel the governor had lodged on Friday, Sept ember, 18, 2020. Appearing on Channels Television, the governor, who looked upset had said that there was basis for such harassment because he had ”done no wrong’’ .
He had stated that he was in the state like the other APC, big wigs in the state,on behalf of the PDP to monitor the election. He had confirmed that Mohammed, the IGP, had actually ordered him ’’to leave the state stressing that his presence will cause crisis.
He could not understand why the IGP, could sngle him out to leave the sate when Abdullahi Ganduje, his Counterpart in Kano state and the Deputy Senate President, who were APC, Chieftains, were also in the state to monitor the election. He fears that it was because he was from the Opposition PDP, that he had been ordered to leave the state to create room for Ize Iyamu, the APC, Candidate to win the election.
This may informed why he was said to have refused to have the state for the police to do their worst. The IGP, he said, had justified his action to a Statement , considered inflammatory allegedly made by him.
Throwing more light on the alleged inflammatory Statement,Wike, the PDP Chairman of the Edo, NCC, disclosed that he had advised theEdo electorate ”to be extra vigilant in order to protect their votes’’. The Rivers governor who could not hide his feelings had described the IGP’s order a ”’the highest level of impunity’’.
But Kokumo, the state , police Commissioner may have told the aggrieved governor to stop comcrying aloud. According to him ”the police do not need to lay siege on anyone” , noting that ”the situation in the state is that no matter the status of the Citizen in the country, the police will ensure that it will do everything within its capacity to create a conducive atmosphere for a free, fair and credible election in Edo state’’.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, was said to have warned the governorship Candidates of the PDP, APC and the other political parties jostling to rule the state through the electoral process not to use unfair method or approach the election as a do or die affair’’ to avoid throwing the state into unimmaginable crisis because of their desperate desire for power.
Aware of the role played by Policemen on electoral duties in the November 16, 2019, governorship election in the oil-rich Bayelsa state and Kogi , where some of the security agencies personnel in the two states were alleged to have become partisan, may have informed why the Leadership of the Police Service Commission, PSC, had assured the Edo voters that the officials of Commission were on ground to monitor the conduct of the police officers deployed to the state to oversee the security situation during the election.
Ikechukwu Ani, the Commission Spokesperson, who broke the cherry news said the police must ’’ get it right and ensure that the people of Edo enjoys a peaceful voting exercise’’. In a Statement issued by him on behalf of the Commission, he had made it clear that the police deployed to the Niger Delta state has a great role ‘’to play to ensure the success of the governorship election ‘’.
Recall that the IGP, and Yakubu, the, INEC Cahairman, as part of the efforts to ensure that the parties play the political game going by the rule, had met with the stakeholders to prepare their mind ahead of the election and the need to approach it with an open mind.
. Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, may have taken advantage of the meeting to disclose some of the most recent innovations that had been introduced which was the use of a tablet, Z-pad, to serve as secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation of voters using the facial image of the voter, in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader that would not be used.
But in spite the large number of the Policemen on electoral duty in the state, the Center for Democracy and Development, CDD, a non- governmental Organisation, had noted that there were cases of violence in five local government areas in the state.
Idayat Hassan, the CDD Director, who could not hide her feelings confirmed that there were actually electoral malpractices, citing vote buying which marred the governorship election, that had been described as peaceful by many .
Worried by the violence in some parts of the state, the PDP, had raised alarm of plots by Agents of the APC, to replace election results where the party is leading , particular, Edo North. The party leadership in the state were said to have petitioned Yakubu, the INEC boss and Yusuf Magaji BICHI, the Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, about the APC, plots.
Apealing to the Security agencies personnel, particular, the policemen , not to allow themselves to be used by the APC to replace results already being declared at the respective polling Units, the party warned that it would not take it. However, the party officials were said to have urged members ”to remain vigilant and follow their results bumper to bumper to all the collation centers” to void giving room to the APC, Agents to tamper with the results.
The duo, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, the PDP and APC, governorship Candidates, repectively, were said to have won in their respective booths ,going by the already declared results.
Note that prior to the Edo state governorship election, on September 19, 2020, Aminu Tambuwal, a former Speaker , House of Representatives and governor of Sokoto state, who incidentally is the Chairman, PDP, Governors Forum, had urged all those that are involved in the conduct of the election ‘’to play to the rules and allow the wishes of the people to be expressed through the ballot. The Sokoto state governor who was said to have described the conduct of’’ the Edo election as commendable’’, had commended Tthe Katsina state born Nigerian Pesident over the structure put in place to ensure a Free and Fair election in Edo. He had urged the parties involved to maintain the peace in the state to its conclusion.
Political analysts believe that the outcome of the Edo election would would end the struggle for supremacy between Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole, a former National Chairman of the party, who ruled the state for two terms.
Poiltical Observers believe that it would go a long way to influence the Ondo state governorship election next month between Rotimi Akeredolu, the incumbent governor and Candidate of the APC and Bayo Jegede of the PDP described as his main Challenger. The two front liners, make up the 17 , Candidates jostling for the governorship position of the state.