Dismisses siege to Wike’s hotel as political drama
•NASS Caucus protests harassment of Rivers’ Gov
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) yesterday explained that the deployment of 31,000 personnel to the governorship election in Edo State was not designed to intimidate voters but a deliberate attempt to sufficiently secure the voting ecosystem.
Force Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Frank Mbah said that contrary to perceptions in some quarters, the election was not over policed, stressing that the whole essence of heavy security build up was to ensure adequate security at the polling units and across the state.
Mbah gave this view when he appeared on Edo Votes 2020, a special programme on Africa Independent Television (AIT) monitored in Abuja. Mbah, who dismissed allegations of bias levelled against the police, feigned ignorance about reports of police siege to a hotel where the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike lodged in Benin City.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on Friday night, raised an alarm that the life of Wike, who is the Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council for the Edo Governorship Election, was in danger. According to the party, the police authorities had ordered Wike to leave Edo State and had deployed over 300 policemen to take over the hotel premises.
In a telephone interview played on some nation television stations, Wike was heard narrating how the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had called him on the phone and asked him to leave. Wike said he refused to leave because the order was unlawful and discriminatory, adding that the hotel came under police siege shortly after his conversation with the police chief. However, Mbah was persistently evasive when asked to explain the role of the police in the said siege.
The police image maker rather waved it off as one of those political dramas associated with elections in Nigeria. He wondered why it was only Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were the only ones that raised alarm about police siege while some chieftains of other political parties were also in Edo State. “You know politicians are very interesting people; they are very impressive people; they are very creative people and they are very wonderful people. The business of policing is different from politics.
We are in the business of policing and not politics. “Every single action and the totality of all action that has been taken and will be taken are tailored to protecting overall national interest. “We have said that we will not do anything that will give any political party any undue advantage over other parties. We will stay with the business of policing the election,” he said.
Mbah who could neither confirm nor deny the action of the IGP in the whole saga confessed that though he serves as spokesman both to Adamu and the Police Force, he does not work with the IGP twenty four hours every day and was therefore not in a position to confirm the phone call. He, however, said that every single action that has been taken by the Police in respect of the governorship election was based on available intelligence and tailored not just to safeguard the credibility of the election but to serve the overall national interest.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Caucus in the National Assembly has protested the harassment of Governor Nyesom Wike by the police, warning that on no account should anything happen to him while in Edo State. In a statement jointly signed by Senator George Sekibo and Hon Kingsley Chinda, the Caucus condemned the siege allegedly laid by over 300 police men to the Westend Hotel, Benin City According to the parliamentarians, Wike was on an official assignment in Edo State and had not contravened any electoral law to warrant such treatment in the hands of the police.
“We are troubled that this shameful action is led by no less a person than DIG Leye Oyebanji who has and is still issuing threats to the Governor to leave Edo State even when the Governors of Kano and Imo states are freely moving around Benin City without molestation, threats, harassment, intimidation and confinement.
“We are aware that the Governor is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Campaign Council just as Ganduje represents the same to the APC. “Furthermore, the Rivers State Governor has committed no offense and is also protected by immunity under our laws. “We are afraid that this action will further widen the fractured parts and points of Nigeria especially at this time when the report of the obvious slide to the status of a failed state.
“Let us warn that should anything untoward befall our governor, the consequences could be dire as we call on Mr President to reign in all actors in this shameful, dishonorable and undemocratic show of shame and ensure a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. We call on the international community to note the conspirators in this naked rape on democracy and democratic institutions in Nigeria,” the statement read. Vote buying, ballot snatching complaints characterize voting –PSC Emmanuel Onani Abuja
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has said that the Saturday Gubernatorial election was characterized by complaints of vote buying and ballot box snatching in many voting centres. This was as the commission further noted that the massive turn out of accredited voters in some areas, overwhelmed the security presence, as a minimum of three policemen were deployed in most polling stations.
The PSC made the position in its interim report contained in a statement by the Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani. “The Police Service Commission says there was enough presence of Police and other security Agencies at the Governorship election in Edo State held Saturday, September 19th 2020. “The Commission, however, noted that the continued deployment of unarmed security personnel at voting units exposed the election to serious threats in some locations.
“The Commission covered the three Senatorial Zones and visited 132 polling units in nine local government Areas. “The Commission received 53 calls and 32 text messages to it’s three dedicated telephone numbers for the election,” the statement said.
According to the PSC: “There were an average of three Police men in several polling units while in many of the Units in Edo North, there were an average of seven to 10. “The Police men in the polling units visited, were professional, courteous and arrived at their places of assignment in good time.
“They were, however, in some places, overwhelmed by voters who turned out in large numbers. Most of the complaints received from callers were mainly on cases of vote buying, snatching of ballot boxes in the face of the inability of the Police to offer any resistance and skeletal shooting incidences. “There were also complaints from some of the participating Police Officers who said they were yet to receive allowances for the election”. It continued: “There was massive security details along major roads and junctions in the state with strict enforcement of no vehicular movement.
“The Commission commends DIG Olayele Oyabede, who coordinated the security architecture of the election in Edo State for responding and intervening in several complaints the Commission’s Team referred to him.
“DIG Oyebade led a strong team made up of two AIGs, Hosea Karma, and Shola Davis, Edo State Command CP, Johnson Kokumo with other visiting CPs Manning the Senatorial Zones.” PDP accuses APC of replacement of results Onyekachi Eze ABUJ A The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is planning to replace election results in Edo North and other places where its candidate is leading.
The party in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) to be alert and forestall any attempt to manipulate the outcome of the election.
“While we charge our members to remain vigilant and follow their results ‘bumper to bumper’ to all the collation centers, we however caution the security agencies against being used to replace results that have already been declared at the respective polling units,” the PDP said. It claimed that results are being manufactured in Kogi State to be used as replacements for already declared results, particularly in Edo North.
The party also said that some of the election results in circulation were fake “including the fake result claimed to have emanated from Etsako West, where a vote of 914 was allocated to the APC, as against the genuine declaration at the polling units. “A cursory check on the results being circulated in the public space by the APC failed a litmus test of the identification numbers of INEC declaration of results. “Whereas polling unit results are identified as Form EC8A, the results being paraded by the APC carry a fake identification number of Form EC60E.”
PDP expressed concern that this was slowing the pace of uploading already declared results in INEC’s virtual portal. “We are alarmed by the report that this development has led to avoidable postelection violence, which has resulted in the reported killing of innocent Edo citizens, who came out to perform their civic responsibilities as the police allegedly withdrew their men in certain collation centers.
“Our party, standing with the people, calls on the Inspector General of Police to protect innocent Nigerians from this electoral defeat response by the APC. “We charge the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to ensure that his officials are not compromised to replace results, as the people of Edo State have spoken loud and clear with their votes in their respective units, and they are already aware of the authentic results,” the party demanded. INEC official who ‘connived with politicians’ arrested at polling unit The Police on Saturday arrested an ad-hoc official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Edo state for conniving with politicians to manipulate ballot papers.
The official, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who is the presiding officer at ward four, unit seven in Eguare Primary School, Edo, was said to have handed over multiple ballot papers to a voter to slot into the vote boxes. The state’s governorship election is in progress with Godwin Obaseki, incumbent governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Osagie Ize- Iyamu, his APC counterpart, as the two major contenders.
The voter, alleged to be a supporter of the APC, was spotted by witnesses who alerted security agents when he attempted slotting the papers into the ballot boxes. The voter subsequently confessed to being handed the ballot papers by the adhoc INEC official. The corps member was taken to a police station for questioning.