The police have beefed up security in Sokoto, Kano, Benue and Plateau states ahead of the supplementary polls scheduled for Saturday.
Also, the National Peace Committee led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, met with party leaders in Benue and Bauchi states on Wednesday with an appeal to them to give peace a chance and accept the outcome of the run-offs.
Supplementary elections had been fixed for March 23 in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states where the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the governorship elections held on February 9 inconclusive.
However, tension has been mounting in the affected states with the two leading parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, heating up the polity with accusations and counter-accusations of plot to rig the run-offs.
But the security agents in order to ensure a peaceful conduct of the supplementary election have beefed up security in the states where the rerun will take place.
In Kano State, for instance, the police have tightened security in major parts of the state in preparation for the supplementary election that would hold in 29 out of 40 Local Government Areas of the state.
This was sequel to a “strategic meeting” in Kano attended by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Wakili, and heads of other security agencies as well as the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu-Shehu.
Armoured personnel carrier in INEC office
Investigations by The PUNCH showed that the most guarded location on Wednesday was the state headquarters of INEC.
One of our correspondents, who visited the INEC office, counted up to six security trucks stationed in front of the building.
An armoured personnel carrier was also stationed at the office.
“Deployment of security personnel to the various local government areas where the rerun will take place on Saturday has also begun,” a police source informed The PUNCH in Kano.
Sensitive electoral materials have also arrived at the office for distribution to the LGAs on Thursday (today).
In Sokoto State, the police said they had summoned party leaders to a meeting on Thursday as part of efforts to ensure peace during the polls.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Sadiq, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH, said the command would deploy additional 10 units of mobile policemen to complement the men of the command on election duties.
RECs meet party leaders, heads of security agencies
Findings also indicated that the meeting earlier attended by the REC and heads of security agencies discussed the security plans for the elections and the number of personnel that would be required to give adequate security cover for materials and INEC ad hoc staff.
The INEC Public Relations Officer in Kano State, Mr Garba Mohammed, confirmed to our correspondents that the REC and heads of security agencies ended the meeting about 2pm.
He said, “A similar meeting was held separately with representatives of the political parties earlier on Tuesday.”
On its part, the campaign organisation of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, said it hoped the election would turn out to be peaceful.
According to a spokesman for the ruling APC, Mr Aminu Musa, the governor is committed to a peaceful poll and will do everything possible to ensure that there is no breakdown in law and order.
However, the state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Rabiu Bichi, said the people of Kano had since made up their mind to vote for the party’s governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf.
Abubakar-led peace panel visits Benue, Bauchi
Meanwhile, the National Peace Committee led by Abubakar met with party leaders in Benue and Bauchi states on Wednesday.
In Benue State, the panel called for free, fair and peaceful polls on Saturday. Abubakar, who was represented by a member of the committee, George Nakanda, said, “We are trying to enforce a situation where there are peaceful elections and ensure that there is peace after the elections.”
Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who was represented by his deputy, Benson Abounu, urged the people of the state to embrace peace, which he said, was a prerequisite for development.
In Bauchi State, the NPC called on them to embrace peace and accept results of the elections, adding that politicians should warn their supporters against violence.
Abubakar, who was represented by a member of the peace committee, Duke Anoemuah, gave the warning in Bauchi, during a town hall meeting with stakeholders.
He said, “It is important to remind you that in a contest, only one winner emerges. Therefore contestants are urged to educate their followers and supporters to conduct themselves peacefully in the celebration of their electoral victory in a manner devoid of provocation. This would also prevent resentment that could result in violence.”
The interventions, he said, were made ahead of the elections in order to uphold peace during and after the elections with key stakeholders including INEC, security agencies, political parties, and traditional and religious leaders.
Anoemuah said, “This was done to amplify the calls for peace and to commit the participants to the pursuit of peace. This town hall meeting is yet another one in the series of interventions in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Kano and Sokoto states organised by the NPC and supported by the Department for International Development (UK).”
The Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, represented by Galadima Bauchi, Alhaji Saidu Jahun, also urged the politicians to embrace peace.
The Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Ali Janga, represented by Aliyu Adamu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, commended the stakeholders for encouraging peace during the 2019 elections.
The Administrative Secretary of INEC, Usman Bukar, while pleading with political parties, stakeholders and the people of Bauchi State to be patient, assured them that INEC “will be fair and do its best to see that all goes well with the elections.”
Army warns soldiers against illegal election duties
Also, the new General Officer Commanding the 8 Division, Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Maj. Gen. Hakeem Otiki, has warned men and officers of the Division to stay clear of the supplementary polls.
He warned the officers of the Division not to get involved in the electoral process without approval.
The GOC stated this when he took over from the immediate predecessor, Maj. Gen. Stevenson Olabanji, in Sokoto on Wednesday.
Otiki said, “You must not get involved, no soldier must be found in the town with uniform without my permission. The image of the military must not be brought down. Anyone who acts contrary to this warning will be moved to Abuja for further explanation.”
No hiding place for troublemakers in Plateau – CP
Also, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr Isaac Akinmoyede, has assured residents of his command’s preparedness to provide security during and after the rerun in the state.
Briefing journalists at the command’s headquarters in Jos on Wednesday, the commissioner warned troublemakers to steer clear of the nine council areas where the rerun would take place.
The commissioner said, “We have report that some people have finalised arrangement to cause problem in the state during the rerun. But I want to assure residents that the command is well prepared to provide security during and after the polls.
“There will be restriction of movement on the day of election but we will decide whether to limit the restriction on the affected council areas where election will hold or extend it to the entire state so that people will not take advantage of the situation to disrupt the polls.”
NAF airlifts election materials to Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force aircraft have airlifted election materials to Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi states, ahead of the run-offs.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who confirmed this during a press conference in Abuja, assured the electorate of hitch-free supplementary polls.
Abubakar said, “For the supplementary elections, our aircraft were able to convey some of the materials on Tuesday to Jalingo, Taraba State; Yola, Adamawa State; and Bauchi. Similarly, we are rounding off the distribution of supplementary election materials to other areas where INEC wants us to go.”
John Alechenu, John Ameh, Friday Olokor, Olaleye Aluko, Tobi Aworinde, John Charles, Adeniyi Olugbemi, James Abraham and Tobi Aworinde