By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA —Barely three days to the Governorship and State Assembly elections, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met behind closed-doors with the service chiefs and heads of other security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a directive that more security agents be deployed to Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom states.
Recall that several persons were killed in four South-South states during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly polls.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting at the press gallery, Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said the security agencies were ready to ensure adequate security before, during, and after the elections.
He also said the security agencies resolved to deal ruthlessly with anyone that would attempt to disrupt a peaceful and credible election, adding that more security personnel had been deployed to Bayelsa State and other states in the Niger Delta.
The IGP advised the public to go out and vote for candidates of their choice, assuring that security had been enhanced.
He said: “We are all aware of the fact that we just concluded the presidential and National Assembly elections and we want to congratulate Nigerians for the peaceful conduct of the elections and we are prepared now for the governorship and the House of Assembly elections in the country.
“We will like every Nigerian to come out and cast his or her vote. The security arrangement we provided during the presidential elections is being enhanced so as to provide enabling environment for everybody to come out and cast his or her vote for their preferred candidates.
“We will again advise those that will want to disrupt the process to rethink because during the presidential election, we had some few challenges here and there.
‘’We will not allow those challenges to repeat themselves. We are taking more security measures to address those pockets of challenges we noticed.
“So, thuggery, again, is not allowed, ballot snatching is not allowed, disruption of the election process is not allowed. We, the security personnel, have resolved to deal ruthlessly with anybody that attempts to disrupt the process of this election.
“For that reason, we expect that in every state, the conduct of the election should be respected. We expect that electoral materials must not be tampered with, we expect that the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) officials would do their work without fear or favour without being compromised.
“At the same time, the security personnel are to perform their duties without allowing themselves to be compromised.
“So, we have heightened the security arrangement to make sure that the election goes without any hitch.”
On whether Police made any arrest of people that allegedly disrupted the election during the February 23 elections, the IGP said some arrests had been made.
“We have made a number of arrests all over the country but probably, we shall come out with the number of arrests we have made in terms of those that disrupted the process of the election in some areas within the country. We have a lot of arrests.
“Investigation is ongoing. There is an investigative team that has been set up, headed by the Commissioner of Police in charge of legal (department), they are compiling the case files, they are investigating them. At the end of the 2investigation, the police, liaising with INEC, will prosecute them.”
On efforts put in place to stop killings as well as disruption of the elections, especially in Bayelsa State, the IGP said security agencies had increased their personnel in the state.
He said: “In Bayelsa and other states within that zone, we have taken notice of the fact that people there are prone to violence; we have increased the number of security personnel posted there.
“Also, we have increased intelligence outfit that has been posted there to help us identify those people that are trying to cause problem so that we can take them out of the environment before they cause the problem. Therefore, there is increase in security personnel.”
While responding to the allegation of militarisation of the electoral process by the security agencies, the IGP said: “Well, as I said before, the lives of Nigerians are secured in terms of provision of adequate security to come out and vote.
“If you judge what you have said with the report of the international observers and local observers, you will see that both the local and international observers have adjudged the process to be peaceful.
“So the pocket of challenges you get here and there did not affect the peaceful conduct of the elections. The process was peaceful and credible.”
He noted that there was a good working relationship between the police and other sister security agencies, pointing out the police were saddled with the responsibility of internal security of the country.
Answering a question on which security agency was superior to the other, the IGP said: “Well, there is no superiority in terms of security agencies. We only talk of the role but when it comes to internal security, it is the police that is the lead agency, other security agencies support the police.”
Service Chiefs at the meeting were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ekwe-Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.
Also present at the meeting were National Security Adviser, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, Director General of National Intelligence Agency, the Director General, Department of State Services and Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu.
The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau and the Minister of Defence, Brigadier Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali were also in attendance.
We’re ready for them — Delta, A-Ibom, Rivers
Reacting to the planned deployment yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Delta State, alleged plots by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to deploy armed ex-militants fully dressed as military personnel into PDP strongholds in the state, particularly riverine communities, to harass, intimidate and arrest PDP chieftains during the March 9, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections
Briefing newsmen in Asaba, the Director General of the PDP campaign council, Chief Funkekeme Solomon, accused the APC of plotting “to psychologically disorganize the PDP members in the identified areas by arresting and/or placing key members of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s cabinet and top PDP officials in the state, under forced house arrest in order to dissolve their resolve, quarantine them to prevent free movement to cast their votes and weaken the stronghold of the PDP in those areas.
Also reacting, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, said the mobilization of security men to Delta State would not bend the will of the people of the state in their preference for a second term for Okowa.
He said: “Beyond the fact that Delta is a PDP State, everyone knows that Ifeanyi Okowa has delivered on his mandate in Delta State and we are relying on the support of our people and we know that Deltans are not ungrateful.
“They know what is good and what is a stronger Delta and they know that Senator Okowa is the person to give it to them. Whether they bring security or they don’t bring security, they believe democracy will thrive and support Senator Okowa for continuation of the very many laudable projects he has been executing in the last four years.”
In his reaction, Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Charles Udoh, simply said: “The National leadership of the PDP has protested about that. And we stand with what the national leadership of the PDP, through its national chairman has said.”
Also reacting, Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Emma Okah, said: “Those who are outside of this place may see the idea as novel but those of us who are here know that it is not as elegant as it seems.
‘’The whole idea is to see how the APC can rig election for themselves. It is not about keeping security or helping the people to guarantee free and fair election, it is an organized plan to rig election for the APC and that is why we are decrying it.”
Efforts to get Bayelsa State government and state chapter of the PDP to react last night proved abortive as they failed to respond to telephone calls.