By Onyebuchi Ezeigbo and Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that it had deployed officials and materials for in today’s elections in the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory.
This is as the police in the FCT have warned would be trouble makers and intending electoral offenders that their men had been deployed to ensure smooth and peaceful elections where violators of electoral laws would be arrested.
As the preparations for the elections entered the final phase, the commission said movement of people on Saturday would be restricted between 6 am and 4pm.
Speaking to THISDAY of telephone on Friday, the Deputy Director, Media and Publicity at INEC, Mr. Nick Dazang said that every preparation had been made to have a hitch-free election.
“We have moved election materials to all the Area Councils. After receiving the materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria vaults, they were taken to the commission’s offices in the council headquarters. Similarly, all the staff to be involved in the election have been asked to move to their areas of assignment where they are expected to pass the night so that they can report for duty on time”, he said.
Dazang said that there would be simultaneous accreditation and voting during today’s election. He also confirmed that collation of results of the election would be handled at the council headquarters where winners of the contest are to be declared.
However, THISDAY findings around the FCT indicates that the smooth movement of officials and materials might suffer disruptions due to the ongoing fuel scarcity which is presently biting hard.
The Commissioner of Police on election duty for Federal Capital Territory, Foluso Adebanjo gave the warning while briefing the media on the Police preparation for today’s council election across the territory, also warned that anyone caught in the act of thuggery as well as their sponsors would be prosecuted.
“May I state at this point that the Police is fully prepared and committed to the successful and peaceful conduct of this Election. I want to also assure members of the public that the Police will remain neutral and provide all with a conducive atmosphere to exercise their voting rights.
“However, the Police will not hesitate to apply the appropriate sections of the law in dealing with any individual or group of persons arrested trying to foment trouble or sabotage the electioneering process”, he said.
The CP, who stepped into the shoes of the substantial FCT Police boss, Wilson Inalegwu for the Area Council election said the command deployed Police personnel to respective polling units and voting points by name for the purpose of accountability.
He said: “It is pertinent to state at this juncture that Police personnel for this election duty have been properly briefed on their roles as stipulated in the electoral act. They will be professional, non-partisan, civil but firm in their approach and relation to the public.”
Adebanjo said aside the aforementioned, the Police had been working closely with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to provide water tight escort for the safe movement of both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials to the respective destinations.
Continuing, he said: “Adequate security arrangements have been made for the protection of INEC staff and all ad-hoc staff being used for the conduct of the election. Also, security at all INEC offices across FCT have been beefed up.”
The CP said in order to properly monitor the election, the Joint Operations Centre, JOC, domiciled in the FCT Police Command Headquarters, had since commenced operation.
He said the centre was manned by personnel drawn from all the security agencies and they would be working with the sole goal of receiving real time situation reports and monitoring the conduct of the elections.
Adebanjo insisted that the restriction of vehicular movement still remained 7am to 4pm and enjoined FCT residents to feel free to come out and exercise their constitutional mandate as the Police in collaboration with other security agencies would be on ground to provide security for the seamless conduct of the election.
He advised FCT residents to be vigilant and cooperate with the Police and other security agencies by reporting suspicious movements and activities through the FCT Police Command Helplines; 08061581938, 07057337653, 08032003913, 08028940883.