• All eyes on us, we can’t afford to fail –INEC chairman
• Our govs’ lives in danger –PDP
• NSCDC deploys more men
Amid tension and palpable fears, many people in Edo State will today file out to exercise their franchise, in an election that is tension soaked. Fears have gripped many voters, who said indications are rife that foot soldiers of some politicians have oiled their war machines and battle ready for today’s poll. An estimated 1, 791, 513 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballot in line with the guidelines for safety measures against the Covid-19 pandemic, to determine the fate of 14 governorship candidates, including Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Out of the almost two million voters, 923, 166 of them are male voters while 868, 347 are female.
A consolidated figure of registered voters as at 31st August 2018 stands at 2, 210, 534; collected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) stood at 1, 726, 738 while uncollected PVCs are 483, 796. Statistics of distribution figure of the PVCs include Edo Central with five local government areas is 364, 998; Edo North with six local government areas has 564, 122 while Edo South stands with a total of 1, 281, 414. The election is expected to hold across the 192 wards in the 18 local government areas of the three senatorial districts of the state. Three policemen are to be stationed at each polling unit across the 192 wards in the state. ‘PDP
govs in danger’
The PDP has raised alarm over the lives of its governors who are in Benin, the Edo State capital, is in danger. The National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at a press conference last night, said security operatives have surrounded the hotel where the governors are accommodated, whereas the governors of APC were moving freely.
“Policemen have surrounded the hotel and their lives are in danger. We call on IGP to ask the police to leave the place because their lives are in danger. If APC governors are in Benin, the PDP governors should be in Benin. Our governors would remain in Benin, no one can intimidate us”, Secondus said. He alleged that Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-agege, were in the home of former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to perfect plans on how to rig the election.
“We are bringing this to the attention of the international community. Elections must be free; elections must be allowed to hold,” he added Police, others on alert To mitigate the fears of the electorate, 31, 000 policemen comprising officers and men of the force drawn from across selected states in the country have been deployed to the state to ensure peace, violent free poll and guaranteed security of lives and property of over three million Edo residents. To further demonstrate the importance and seriousness attached to the election and security implications, the Inspector General Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu had approved the deployment of one Deputy Inspector General of Police, in charge of Research and Planning, DIG Adeleye Oyebade, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and eight Commissioners of police (CPs) to strategically coordinate and ensure success of the all-important epic contest.
Aside the figure of deployed regular, anti-riot and plain clothed police operatives, men and officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) have also deployed 13, 000 if its men to join in the onerous task of ensuring violent free poll across the state. In addition, hordes of soldiers, naval officers, Air Force, immigration, men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Department of State Services (DSS) are part of the move towards a hitch free conduct of the election.
The soldiers and other security operatives are to man all the entry point along boundary communities with Edo state and mapped out or identified flashpoints in parts of the state. The deployed operatives are to also ensure guaranteed security on land, air and waterways towards averting all acts inimical to the free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible conduct of the exercise. The INEC had disclosed that it was going to use the 2019 voters registered for the conduct of the Edo governorship election, and that about 1,735, 910 PVCs have been collected while a total of 483,868 have not been distributed.
All eyes on us, says INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has however enjoined its officials conducting the election to live up to their oath of neutrality, noting that all eyes are on them to deliver a free, fair and credible process. Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in a message to the staff of the commission, expressed confidence that they will rise to the occasion, saying, “we have done it several times before and we can do it again. “Let me appeal to all of you to remain steadfast and committed to the ideals of the commission. Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us. They are watching. “The commission deeply appreciates the never ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate,” Prof. Yakubu said, assuring that the management would continue to improve their welfare and conditions of service within the available resources. The INEC Chairman further challenged them to remain above board in the performance of their duties, and ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. “We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our code of conduct and oath of neutrality to which we have all subscribed. For, at the end of the day, we would have alcontributed to the sustenance of democracy and a strong electoral process that all Nigerians can trust,” he stated.
NSCDC deploys additional staff
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) also deployed additional personnel of 1,998 Special Forces of the Corps for Edo Election. This information was disclosed by Ekunola Gbenga, the CG urged them to be apolitical and “resist any financial inducement while discharging their duties to ensure a free, credible and nonviolent election in the state,” adding the Corps would not hesitate to sanction any officers that compromise the integrity of the Corps during this election. Deputy Commandant General in-charge of operations, Hillary Kelechi Madu lead the Civil Defence team to provide security during the September 19, governorship poll in Edo State, the DCG would be assisted by a number of Assistant Commandant Generals and Commandants who have all arrived the state since Thursday. The Special force numbered 1,998 was deployed from other state commands of the federation to assist in the election in Edo State while awaiting more men from other zones. All the riverine areas of the state have been covered with marine men patrolling with their boats. All measures had been put in place towards the attainment of a free, fair and credible election in Edo; Gana said. While securing elections, you are not permitted inside polling stations with arms, and may only enter at the request of the presiding officer; he cautioned.
Yiaga Africa deploys PVT to check polls credibility
Yiaga Africa has deployed Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for the election. The PVT is an advanced election observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and sophisticated information technologies in providing timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting to independently verify the official governorship results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Also, the organization said 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 25 mobile observers has been deployed to all 18 LGAs as well as 18 collation center observers to each of the LGA Collation Centres. This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the Chair of Yiaga Africa election observation mission for Edo state, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Guinea and former African Union Commissioner of Political Affairs and the Yiaga Africa Executive Director, Samson Itodo.