By James Sowole
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr Mohammed Adamu, Monday warned the personnel that would be deployed for the October 10, 2020 election in Ondo State to be professional and non-partisan in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities.
The duo gave the warning in Akure, the state capital, at a stakeholders meeting on the Saturday gubernatorial poll.
The event, which was held at the Ondo State International Event Centre, The Dome, was attended by representatives of political parties, heads of security agencies, the Director General of National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier Shuaibu Ibrahim, representatives of civil society organisations (CSO), traditional rulers, market women and the media.
The INEC chairman said the commission cannot afford to perform below the standard of the Edo election and all efforts and arrangements had been put in place to ensure improvement on the feat.
“We have recruited, trained and screened all categories of ad hoc staff for the election.
“We have delivered non-sensitive materials to all the 18 local government areas of Ondo State.
“We warned our officials (ad hoc and regular staff) to be professional and non-partisan in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities. Voter education and sensitisation is ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to electoral locations in all 3,009 polling units and 203 electoral wards across the state.
“This afternoon, the Central Bank will deliver all sensitive materials for the election to its Akure branch.
“In response to the unfortunate fire incident last month in which we lost all our Smart Card Readers in Ondo State, we have moved enough replacements from Oyo State and configured them for the election on Saturday.
“We have made adequate arrangements with the Federal Fire Service to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.
“We have continued to work with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure a hitch-free and secure election on 10th October,” Yakubu said.
The INEC chairman said it is the people of the state that will determine who their next governor is through ballot on Saturday.
He said: “Our commitment is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next governor of Ondo State is entirely in the hands of the voters.
“I wish to assure all eligible voters that every vote will count and only the choice made by the people of Ondo State will determine the outcome of the election.
“I want to assure political parties and candidates that we will remain focused on our processes and procedures. Let me reiterate to all stakeholders that the commission will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.”
Yakubu said the commission has reviewed the Edo governorship election and identified 16 areas to be improved upon.
According to him, “The commission has reviewed the last governorship election in Edo State. We are determined to continue improving on our performance.
“For this reason, we identified 16 areas of improvement, including logistics, prompt response to Smart Card Reader glitches on election day, the menace of vote buying during elections and compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
“We have engaged with land and maritime transport owners for forward and reverse logistics to and from land and riverine locations.
“We have engaged additional 104 Registration Area Technical Support (RATECHS) staff to respond rapidly to issues with Card Readers on election day.”
The INEC chairman reiterated that the use of card reader is mandatory, adding that: “Where they are deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void in line with the commission’s regulations and guidelines.”
Addressing the meeting, the IG, Adamu, said a total of 33,783 police personnel shall be deployed on election security duty for the Saturday governorship poll.
Giving the breakdown of the personnel, the IG said the deployment shall comprise 30,933 conventional police personnel and 2,850 Special Police Units.
He said: “The police deployment will be complemented by an additional 3,500 manpower that will be drawn from other security agencies.
“The military will be engaged for the purpose of securing the inter state borders, while the Nigeria Police Airwing will provide air surveillance.
“These personnel shall be deployed to adequately secure the 3,009 polling units (PUs) in 203 wards spread over the 18 local government areas of the state. They are to protect the personnel and assets of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electorate, and residents of Ondo State in general before, during and after the election.”
Adamu said the police have undertaken security threat assessment and all the flashpoints and actors engaged in, or planning to threaten the electoral process in Ondo State have been identified and strategies have been emplaced to frustrate their criminal, unpatriotic and undemocratic intentions.
He said directive had been given for withdrawal or scale down of security around political office holders, until after the election.
He warned that any person that violates criminal laws and causes or sponsors any person to cause trouble, shall be dealt with in accordance with the law, irrespective of the status of such person.