The Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said a total of 31,000 police personnel will be deployed for the conduct of this Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.
Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has taken measures to safeguard the integrity of the election. IGP Adamu, who spoke yesterday at stakeholders’ meeting in Benin, said the massive deployment is to protect INEC officials and materials, as well as to forestall violence that might occur during and after the election.
He had already announced the deployment of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Assistant General of Police (AIG) and eight Commissioners of Police, for the election. Adamu disclosed that the force had undertaken an election security assessment, and has identified all the flashpoints and actors, or those planning to threaten the peaceful conduct of the election.
According to him, “All the three senatorial districts, 18 local government areas and 192 wards and 2,627 polling units across the state have been appropriately mapped out, and adequate deployments will be made to ensure security.
“This massive deployment is not only to deter misguided political actors that might be bent on threatening the elections through acts of thuggery or other conducts that violate the provisions of the Election Act, but to also serve as a strong warning that the government is determined to bring such characters to justice should they advance their ignoble, undemocratic and unpatriotic intents.”
He assured that as lead agency in election security management, the force will be impartial, firm and professional in the exercise of its statutory duties as provided in the Electoral Act and other enabling laws.
Adamu stated that the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee of Election Security (ICCES) has developed a code of conduct and rules of engagement for security personnel on election duty.
“This document clearly highlights the roles, ethics and standard of operations of all security agents deployed on election security duties.
“The personnel to be deployed have been availed of this document and they are fully conscious of the fact that they shall be held accountable for any professional conduct that negates the dictates of the document,” he said.
The IGP called on the political actors to embrace the virtues of democracy and see election as a call to duty and not a do-or-die. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the ballot papers and result sheets to be used in the conduct of the election will carry special features to guard against rigging.
“Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. “I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election.
“The commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more,” he assured.
The INEC Chairman said the commission would deepen the deployment of technology in the electoral process, but said z-pad used in the conduct of Nasarawa by-election will only be used in uploading results at polling unit level.
This, he explained, was because the commission encountered some difficulties in test-running the technology in the Nasarawa by-election. “While the capture and upload of polling unit level result went on smoothly, the facial authentication did not,” Yakubu said.
He added that though the ICT department had worked on the device afterwards and made a presentation to the commission, “the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election. “Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa central state constituency, the Edo governorship election involves 2,627 polling units.
“The commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the by-elections scheduled for 31st October 2020 and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections.
“The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.”
He said INEC had intended to use the z-pad as a means of achieving full biometric accreditation using facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the smart card reader.
He assured of the neutrality of INEC in the election, adding that two National Commissioners were deployed to review the process of recruiting ad hoc staff who will conduct the governorship and confirmed that it was in strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment.
“I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted. The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration,” he said.
He appealed for peaceful conduct of political actors and their supporters and allow the people of Edo State to elect their governor. The Oba of Benin, Eradiwa II, who was represented by Iyasele of Benin kingdom, called for free and fair election.
He said INEC Chairman and the IGP should ensure that the election is one of the best in the country. “It is a test for everybody. And to the two major political parties, we want peace.
We are watching,” the Oba stated. All the 14 political parties participating in the election, their chairmen and candidates will today, sign a peace accord to be presided over by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and the Oba of Benin.