DIG of Police, Adeleye Oyebade, has given recipe for a free, fair, safe and credible governorship election in Edo State on Saturday, September 19th, 2020.
Addressing a press conference at the Edo State Police Command Headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, Oyebade said: “The gubernatorial election scheduled to hold in Edo State on 19th September, 2020 will serve as another litmus test of determining the strength or otherwise of our democratic process.
“Elections in Nigeria have often been marred by plethora of election malpractices and violence. Violence during elections can exceedingly debase the very essence and foundation of our jealously guarded nascent democracy. Elections marred by violence, and other forms of malpractices cannot be said to be free, fair and credible.
“Election violence can breed fatalities and abruptly cause injuries to the psyche and physical bodies of victims, leaving with them perpetual pains. Not only that, violence especially during elections could dehumanize us and bring us to avoidable opprobrium in the comity of dignified, civilized democratic nations.
“Our objective is to provide an enabling environment for a free and fair election that will remain a reference point in election security. Previous elections may have had their challenges, it is our resolve to improve on them, and make the 2020 Edo State Governorship Election freer, better, more inclusive, safer and more credible.
“The credibility of this election and indeed future elections remains our major focus. Part of sincere efforts to ensure security for elections is the setting up of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). The Committee which is replicated at the State and Local Government levels comprises members drawn from the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces, the Department of State Services, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Correctional Service, (formerly Nigerian Prisons Service), the Nigeria Customs Service, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and INEC.
“The Committee is saddled with the onerous responsibility of providing security in the electoral process at all levels and ensure very transparent, peaceful, free, fair and credible elections that meet international best practices.”
Going further, he said: “To achieve its mandate therefore, members of the Committee are determined to work assiduously with a common purpose and collectively without fair or favour. The Committee will ensure that the confidence reposed in it is not betrayed.
“On its part, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with members of this Committee and other relevant stakeholders, is determined to ensure that the election is not only free, but also fair, transparent and credible.
“It is in this vein that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, NPM, mni has resolved to protect the democratic process by providing enabling environment, and level playing field for all the players.
“Adequate police officers comprising conventional, plain-clothed policemen and Special Forces have been deployed to provide robust security before, during and after the election. We have carried out security threat analysis hence, all identified vulnerable points, entry and exit points have been mapped out for special security coverage, while the military is expected to perform the required complementary role of outer cordoning.
“The police officers have been properly briefed on their expected roles and conduct during the election, bearing in mind strict adherence to the principles and rules of the Code of Conduct for Officers and Men of the Nigeria Police Force. All other security personnel deployed for the election must also adhere to the code of conduct and rules of engagement on election duty.
“For effective manning of the polling booths, no fewer than three police officers and personnel of other security agencies will be deployed in each of the 2,627 polling booths.”
According to him, “the officers deployed for this special assignment will be apolitical, neutral and professional in their constitutional responsibilities.
“The police officers and their counterparts from other sister agencies who are involved in the election will be posted to polling booths by name, and would wear identifiable tags for easy identification.
“The Nigeria Police Force is working in tandem with the Independent National Electoral Commission and other members of the ICCES as well as other relevant stakeholders to ensure the success of this election. The police will not shirk in their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of the citizens.
He assured that “we will provide adequate security for INEC staff (permanent and ad-hoc) and electoral materials, both sensitive and non-sensitive. We will also provide equal protection for the electorate, party agents, candidates irrespective of their political party, the press, local and international observers and other stakeholders involved in the election.
“We are not oblivious of the prevailing circumstance globally as it concerns the COVID-19 pandemic. This has placed much more duty on us to be conscious of our safety and the safety of others.
“Therefore, all security personnel and everyone involved in the election duty will adhere to the protocols on Covid-19 as stipulated by the relevant government agency.
“As a prelude to the election, recently a general mop up of arms to curtail proliferation of illegal arms throughout the country was carried out on the order of the IGP. Therefore, no carrying of arms by persons, groups, or outfits by whatever name would be allowed.
“We want to sound a note of warning to would-be miscreants and other political thugs who might be holding clandestine, diurnal or nocturnal meetings to foment trouble with the motive to disrupt the election, and scuttle the democratic process to desist from such act as the arm of the law will certainly catch up with them.
“We appeal to party supporters and the public to abstain from launching vitriolic attacks or making caustic, acerbic, odious comments, or hate speeches capable of flaming embers of discord thereby heating up the polity.
The National Orientation Agency and the media will be very helpful in this regard. We implore NOA and our very vibrant and articulate media that have always been in the vanguard of entrenching democracy in Nigeria to carry out aggressive sensitization campaigns aimed at discouraging people from making inflammatory comments that could aggravate the already tensed political atmosphere.
Oyebade gave specific instructions of the IGP Inspector-General of Police. Which include: “No one is allowed to wear any cloth, emblem or colour signifying any political party to the polling units; no person is allowed to move around with security personnel around the polling units; everyone is enjoined to vote and return to their respective houses or remain peacefully within the approved parameters of the polling centers; no one is allowed to move about from one polling unit to another and there shall be restriction on movement on the day of the election; only INEC accredited election monitors, observers are allowed to move around for the purpose of the election monitoring and they must all wear their INEC accredited tags; only accredited journalists are allowed to cover the elections. All such journalists must carry their accreditation tags; Praise singing, drumming and dancing around the vicinity of the polling units are not allowed; Vehicles branded in any political party colour or emblem are not allowed to be deployed on any election assignment and selling of alcohol, beverages around the polling booths and collation centers is totally banned.”
He asserted that “as part of efforts geared towards efficient management of information and security, we have established a Joint Control Room with dedicated lines for the use of the public especially during emergencies.
“The following numbers – 08154352118 (for calls only) and 08154350436 (SMS and WhatsApp) – are available for the use of members of the public. The Joint Control Room will be manned by representatives of all the security agencies in the State.
In conclusion, he said: “I want to urge members of the public particularly voters to go out on the Election Day to exercise their franchise without let or hindrance.
“We are all stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Therefore, I do hope that we will lend our voices and throw our weight behind the clamour for free, fair, safe and credible elections in Nigeria.”