As the Independent National Electoral Commission holds bye-elections in 11 states across the country on Saturday (today), the police have issued warnings of restricted movement in the affected 36 local government areas.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Muyiwa Adejobi, on Friday, announced a restriction of movement from 6 am to 6 pm in Somolu, Kosofe, Epe, Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki LGAs in the state.
Adejobi, in a tweet, said, “Lagos-East senatorial election, no movement between 6 am and 6 pm of Saturday, December 5, 2020. Comply please.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, on Friday in a statement by Adejobi titled ‘Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II bye-elections: Police declare restriction order, sue for peaceful conduct’, added that the restriction was in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
Odumosu stated that the election monitoring team, comprising two police commissioners, assistant commissioners of police and other officers, led by the CP, Community Policing, Force Headquarters, Kola Okunola, had been deployed in the state to supervise policemen and other security agents detailed for the election duties.
The statement read in part, “The command has deployed a reasonable number of police personnel and other security agents to cover and provide security at the 1,928 polling units in the areas.
“The Commissioner of Police reiterated that there would not be both vehicular and pedestrian movements in and out of the affected local government areas during the elections except those on election duties, essential services and accredited domestic and foreign election observers.
“The police boss, however, warned the electorate and political gladiators to play the game according to the rules and provisions of the Electoral Acts, 2010. He also warned that no police aides or security agents would be allowed to escort their principals or any Very Important Personalities to the polling units.”
Similarly, the Plateau State Government announced the restriction of movement in six LGAs ahead of the Plateau-South senatorial bye-election today.
The Secretary to the State Government, Prof Danladi Atu, in a statement on Friday, said the restriction, which included all vehicles, would run from 6 am to 6 pm.
He said, “By this directive, only those on essential duties will be permitted to move around during the period of restriction. The government wishes to call on all citizens within the Southern Senatorial Zone to fully cooperate by observing this directive in order to ensure that the bye-election is successfully conducted.”
The statement added that security personnel had been properly briefed to ensure enforcement and compliance.
INEC also said it had deployed 36,223 staff members for the poll in 11 states today.
A document that a total of 4,215,523 registered voters were eligible to participate in 36 local government areas, 413 registration areas, 7,702 polling units and 69,921 voting points.
The details of the document obtained from INEC indicated that Bayelsa Central Senatorial District had 4,662 staff; Bayelsa West, 2,281; Imo North, 3,874; Plateau South, 6,347; and Cross River North, 4,042; Lagos East Senatorial District, 9,284; and Ngazai State Constituency, 362.
Others are Bayo State Constituency (456), Bakori State Constituency (1,113), Bakura State Constituency (553), Isu Uzo State Constituency (562), Ibaji State Constituency (667), Kosofe 2 State Constituency (1,610), Obudu State Constituency (12) and Dass State Constituency (398).
Meanwhile, INEC has warned against engaging in vote-buying during the bye-elections, while appealing for the cooperation of voters and stakeholders in the states with 15 pending bye-elections in its efforts to deliver credible, free and fair elections.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this in a statement, following a meeting in Abuja on Friday.
The meeting, among others, reviewed the outcome of its quarterly engagements and consultations with critical stakeholders in the electoral process, and looked at the security situation regarding the bye-elections.
Following the #EndSARS nationwide protests, INEC had announced the indefinite postponement of the bye-elections in the six senatorial districts and nine state constituencies.
The pending bye-elections are Bayelsa Central Senatorial District; Bayelsa West Senatorial District; Nganzai and Bayo constituencies in Borno State; Cross River North Senatorial District; and Obudu Constituency in Cross River.
Others are Imo North Senatorial District; Lagos East Senatorial District; Kosofe Constituency II in Lagos State; Plateau South Senatorial District; Bakura Constituency in Zamfara; and Ibaji Constituency in Kogi.
INEC Supervisory National Commissioner in charge of the bye-elections in Lagos, Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the commission would not tolerate any act that would discredit the polls, including vote-buying.
He said, “We are in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, and other security agencies to ensure that people that perpetrate such acts are brought to book. The issue of making use of food at the polling units will be prevented.
“It (vote-buying) is something that appears difficult to curb. We can only do our best to prevent it on Election Day. We will put all hands on deck to ensure credible and transparent elections in Lagos.”
Meanwhile, the APC candidate for the Lagos-East Senatorial District election, Mr Tokunbo Abiru, and his PDP counterpart, Babatunde Gbadamosi, will lock horns today in Lagos-East.
Abiru, a former Managing Director of Polaris Bank, has been exchanging verbal attack with Gbadamosi over the past few weeks, and the electorate are set to decide who they want in the district.
Both candidates have boasted about victory while the two political parties have also pointed accusing fingers at each other on the issues of vote-buying and use of hoodlums for the elections.
The APC candidate, while speaking about his plans in an interview with our correspondent, assured Lagosians that he would not be a godson to anyone.
“I don’t believe in the concept of godfathers and the APC is not a party of godfathers. It is a progressive party. Let me say that I come from a progressive political family. My younger brother is a member of the state assembly. At some point, he was the chief whip. That shows that it’s about one’s substance and not about godfatherism,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the PDP candidate, Gbadamosi, said the district had suffered neglect in the hands of the APC-led state and Federal Government and the situation would change, if he is elected.
He said, “I send the message of prosperity to all Lagosians and anything that will stand in the way of my message, I will fight it. That is what I hope to do and that is the message I am passing across to Lagosians. Any federal law that stands in the way of the interests of Lagosians, I will fight it.”
Also, speaking on the bye-elections, the APC Publicity Secretary for Lagos State, Mr Seye Oladejo, told our correspondent that the past performances of the party would work for them to secure victory in the polls.
Meanwhile, the PDP Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Mr Taofik Gani, however, countered that the APC had lost out in favour and connection with the people, and this would be the party’s undoing.
One person was said to have been killed in Bayelsa State hours before the senatorial bye-elections rescheduled to hold today in Bayelsa Central and West.
The killing reportedly occurred in Eniwari, Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa Central on Thursday, when gunmen suspected to be working for a political party invaded the community “to intimidate their opponent.”
Suspected political thugs had, on Thursday, invaded the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, disrupting proceedings.
Hearing of a pre-election suit between the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abel Ebifemowei; and Moses Cleopas of the Peoples Democratic Party, both from Bayelsa Central, had just been stood down by Justice Jane Inyang when the hoodlums attacked the court.
There were also reports that an explosive believed to be a dynamite was thrown on the premises of the court.
However, the Commissioner of Police, Mike Okoli, on Friday, urged voters to exercise their franchise, saying 5,000 police officers had been deployed to ensure peaceful polls.
While announcing a restriction of vehicular movement between 6 am and 2 pm, Okoli said, “We are deploying 5,000 personnel. Out of the 5,000, we have 10 (armed) Police Mobile Force units to cover the election. These mobile units will not be at the polling units.
“They will be at the outer rings to checkmate the activities of hoodlums and those who will want to disrupt the exercise. That will be the role of the armed policemen while the unarmed will be at the polling units.”