Residents of Cross River North Senatorial District, in Cross River State, have expressed worry over the massive deployment of men of the Nigeria Police Force in the area, barely 24 hours to the governorship and state Assembly elections.
According to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the state, the move is part of a grand plan to intimidate voters and militarise election in the area which is believed to be a PDP stronghold in order to rig the election for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Recall that the incumbent APC governor, Prof. Ben Ayade lost his bid to the Senate three weeks ago during the presidential and National Assembly elections. He lost to a sitting Senator, Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe.
Prior to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the house of the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Vena Ikem, who is from the district, was vandalized by armed men alleged to have been sponsored. Cars and other valuables worth millions of Naira were also not spared.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Irene Ugbo, however, said the command was only reacting to reports that one of the political parties had herded people into the state to disrupt the peace during the elections.
“There is nothing like a massive deployment of officers and men. Rather, what we have is a regular operational plan to strengthen security during the elections. We have an intelligence report some politicians have brought in people outside the state to foment trouble, and we have to take action”
Residents in Ogoja and Obudu, confirmed the heavy police presence. “These are not the regular policemen we see around here,” one of them said, adding, “Except they were sent to rig elections, their presence is not necessary because this area is usually peaceful during elections,” a resident who pleaded anonymity said
The PDP in Cross River State had won elections in the state back to back from 1999 till 2019. However, the state governor had in 2021 defected to the APC carrying along most political appointees, elected officials of the state assembly, and local government chairmen thus creating a structure for the APC.
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