Abuja (Sundiata Post) – THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday alleged mobilization of thugs by unnamed people for this month’s governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said in Abuja that the aim was to influence or disrupt the November 16 process.
But the police authorities said they were mobilizing their own personnel to deal with any threat to the elections.
A total of 69,282 police men and women will be on duty in the two states to protect lives and property, according to Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu.
Both men spoke at the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting organised by the commission ahead of the polls.
Yakubu said: “There are already warning signals in the two states; both are politically volatile. Elections have been disrupted by violence in the past.
He said the commission has already identified some flashpoints.
He said that the thugs were “mobilised from within and outside the states with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors.
“This calls for a robust response before the elections, on election day and during the process of collation and declaration of results.”
He said the ICCES meeting was designed to review the security situation in the two states and see how best to secure the environment to enable the commission conduct free and fair election.
“Doing so means providing security that will guarantee safety of voters; protection of INEC officials, unimpeded movement, including access to polling units and collation centres for election officials,” he said.
“These include protection of accredited polling agents, observers and the media; effectively and dispassionately dealing with disruptive behaviour by political actors and persons acting on their behalf.
“Enforcement of the restriction of movement in both states on election day and the prompt arrest and prosecution of offenders.”
Responding to the INEC statement, Adamu said 69,282 police personnel would be deployed to the two states to maintain law and order before, during and after the elections.
Adamu said the force was ready for the polls.
“We are aware of the security challenges in the two states and we have made adequate provisions in terms of personnel and logistics to tackle any security challenge we might face,” he said.
“In Bayelsa, we are deploying 31,041 personnel to cover the election; in Kogi, we are deploying 35,200 personnel.
“These personnel are to cover every terrain in both states;no tout will be allowed in to disrupt election, all those areas will be manned.” he said.
He guaranteed the security of INEC personnel and materials before and during the elections.
The police boss said that ward collection centres and polling units would be adequately protected as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) offices where the materials will be kept.
Culled from The Nation.