Yakubu: Results of Polling Units with Record of Violence Will Not Be Counted

•Imo: LP, PDP guber candidates stage walkout during INEC’s stakeholders’ meeting  

•Demand removal of Resident Electoral Commissioner  

•Don’t test our resolve, IG warns trouble makers in Bayelsa, Kogi, Imo

•Orders restriction of movement on election day 

•Deploys three DIGs to man elections in three states

Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa, Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja and Tony Icheku in Owerri

Ahead of Saturday’s off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned politicians and political parties that it would not count votes from polling units where violence was recorded. Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this yesterday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, while addressing election stakeholders during a meeting in preparation for the governorship election on November 11.

Yakubu said the commission would not return to any polling unit, where there was violence, for election.

Equally, yesterday, Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, warned individuals and groups intent on disrupting the election to think twice, as the police high command was prepared to deal decisively with troublemakers.

However, in Imo State yesterday, the governorship candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), Senators Samuel Anyanwu and Athan Achonu, respectively, staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by INEC to press home their demand for the redeployment of the state Resident Electoral (REC), Professor Sylva Agu.

Nevertheless, less than four days to the three off-season governorship elections, PDP yesterday said exit polls’ predictions favoured the party winning the November 11 governorship elections. PDP also said the victory of Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan would count positively for the party in the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State.

Yakubu, who was represented at the meeting in Yenagoa by INEC National Commissioner supervising Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, disclosed that all the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Systems (BIVAS) that would be used for the elections were customised for INEC.

Agbamuche-Mbu said INEC details were in the BVAS, while the list and serial numbers of all the BIVAS qwre with INEC.

According to Yakubu, “I want to let you know that our BVAS have been customised for INEC, so INEC details and the name of the parties are on the BVAS. So any BVAS you see without INEC details cannot be from INEC.

“Another thing, we have all the list of the serial numbers of the BVAS we are going to use, the result sheets will be signed at the polling units.

“Where there is violence, it will be zero. We will not return to that polling unit to conduct election.

“We have recruited and carefully trained all category of ad-hoc staff to be deployed to the fields, all non-sensitive materials have been distributed to all the eight local government area offices of the state; voter education and sensitisation is ongoing.

“We have made arrangement for the transportation of personnel and materials to ensure that polling units open on schedule on election day.”

Speaking further, he said, “For more effective supervision of the process, we are deploying two National Commissioners, eight Resident Electoral Commissioners to support our office in Bayelsa. I wish to assure you of our commitment to free, fair and credible election come Saturday.”

INEC Publishes List of Candidates, Details of 40 Polling Units without Voters

INEC, yesterday, published the list of candidates and detailed information on the two polling units in Bayelsa and 38 in Imo without registered voters.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, in a statement issued in Abuja, reiterated that elections would not hold in these polling units. Olumekun added that no materials had been produced for these locations and no officials would be deployed to them.

He explained, “In continuation of the commission’s preparations for the three off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states, the commission is making available two publications on the forthcoming polls as follows:

“This publication contains an infographic summary of registered voters and Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) collected by Local Government Areas (LGAs) as well as the distribution of registered voters by gender, age group, occupation and disability.

“The publication also includes the list of candidates and detailed information on the two polling units in Bayelsa and 38 in Imo State without registered voters. The commission has repeatedly said that elections will not hold in these polling units. No materials have been produced for these locations and no officials will be deployed to them.”

The national commissioner stated that 16 political parties were sponsoring candidates for the election in Bayelsa State, while 18 parties were sponsoring candidates in both Imo and Kogi states.

He noted that elections would be held in 10,470 polling units (excluding the 40 polling units without registered voters).

Olumekun explained that each political party was expected to nominate polling agents for all the polling units as well as 649 Ward, 56 LGA and three state collation centres.

He added, “However, at the close of the deadline for uploading the list of agents to the INEC dedicated portal by political parties, 34,704 agents were uploaded for Bayelsa State, 65,274 for Imo State and 37,995 for Kogi State, making a total of 137,973 polling and collation agents for the three states.

“However, the detailed breakdown shows that not all the parties nominated agents for the polling and collation centres across the states.

“Indeed, some political parties have no polling unit or collation agents in some states, despite having candidates in the election.”

Olumekun noted that information booklets as well as the comprehensive summary of the agents and their distribution by polling units, and the Ward, LGA and State collation centres had been uploaded on the INEC website and social media platforms for public information.

The Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Mr. Tolani Alausa, said the police were fully prepared to ensure peaceful election in Bayelsa State this Saturday.

Represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operations, Mr. Ijamah Daniel, the police boss said the force would deploy six personnel in each polling unit.

Daniel stated, “In every polling unit, we are going to deploy three to six personnel, outside that, the IGP has deployed as much as 21 units of mobile police force, under tactical unit, like the special force, the counter terrorism unit, special protection unit are all coming to Bayelsa State.

“I will advise every one of us to be law abiding, because we are prepared to withstand any type of challenge that will arise. We are equal to the task.”

Imo: LP, PDP Guber Candidates Stage Walkout at INEC Stakeholders’ Meeting

The governorship candidate of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, and that of LP, Senator Athan Achonu, yesterday, staged a walkout at a stakeholders’ meeting in Owerri organised by INEC to press home their demand for the redeployment of the Imo State REC, Professor Sylvia Agu.

The stakeholders’ meeting was organised by INEC as part of its pre-election interactions with the governorship candidates, security agencies, the media, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders. It was chaired by INEC’s National Commissioner representing South-east, Kenneth Ukeagu, who represented Yakubu.

The meeting in Owerri first ran into commotion when Ukeagu, after his opening remarks, ordered journalists to shut their cameras/gadgets and leave the hall.

However, LP’s deputy governorship candidate, Mr. Tony Nwulu, and that of PDP, Jones Onyereri, who represented their flagbearers, and other officials of the opposition political parties vehemently opposed the directive. They argued that the press, as critical stakeholders, could not be excluded from the meeting.

Nwulu asked if the meeting was “a secret cult affair” and alleged that there were plans by INEC to rig the election in favour of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Onyereri, speaking in support of Nwulu, displayed copies of documents he described as fake result sheets posted on the INEC portal during the House of Assembly election in the state.

The session turned rowdy, as supporters of both the ruling and opposition parties rained abuses on each other, with the situation nearly degenerating into fisticuffs

Order was restored about 20 minutes later, with several stakeholders calling for peace. But hell was let loose again when a chieftain of APC, Macron Nlemigbo, rained abuses on the state chairman of LP, who, in his remarks, maintained the party’s position that a credible, free and fair election could not be guaranteed with Agu as REC.

The abusive remarks by Nlemigbo, which were ignored by Ukeagu, made Nwulu, Onyereri, and their supporters to storm out of the hall.

Onyereri told newsmen that he was forced to walk out of the meeting because the INEC commissioner had shown by his body language and actions that he was in bed with the Imo APC

“The PDP is resolute on its demand that the REC, Professor Sylvia Agu, be redeployed, and the refusal of INEC to look into our demand indicates that there is nothing to discuss in this meeting,” he said.

Nwulu also declared that LP walked out of the meeting because they could not trust Ukeagu or the REC, Agu, to conduct a free and fair election.

He added, “By ignoring our request for the deployment of Professor Agu, it is either that the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu, is deaf or compromised, but we do not trust the REC to conduct a free and fair election. You can even hear officials of the APC bragging in the hall that Professor Agu cannot be removed.”

The state chairman of LP, Callistus Ihejiakwa, said the inability of Ukeagu to take charge of the meeting showed that he was already compromised. Ihejiakwa pointed out that the APC chieftain made threats to his life in the hall, but was not called to order.

PDP: Exit Polls Give Us Victory in Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi Off-season Governorship Polls

National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said exit polls in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states gave victory to his party in the three states.

According to the PDP spokesman, “In Imo State, PDP is the only party that has campaigned in all the local government areas of the state.

“Our candidate is a well-known grassroots politician. He is not a Supreme Court-imposed governor. He is a two-time local government chairman, two-time House of Assembly member, a senator and, above all, a National Assembly member.

“Uzodinma never lived or worked in Imo State. He was imposed on the people by the Supreme Court. He has not won any election in the state. In Imo State, Hope Uzodinma cannot win freely and fairly in any ward in the state.”

Ologunagba added, “The Imo people are ready. The PDP is ready. We cannot be cowed. We are determined that the votes must be counted. The voters will not leave the polling stations till the votes are counted.

“We take it as President Tinubu said that he has no interest but to ensure a free and fair election in the state.”

Ologunagba repeated PDP’s calls for the removal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State, Professor Sylvia Agu, insisting that she has the tendency to manipulate the outcome of the election in favour of APC.

He referred to the infamous role played by Hudu Ari in the Adamawa State governorship poll, urging Yakubu to heed wise counsel and remove the Imo State REC.

Ologunagba also called on the INEC chairman to remove the Imo REC, as the Inspector General of Police had done by removing the controversial Commissioner of Police in Imo State.

According to Ologunagba, “We Urge the INEC chairman not to succumb to pressure not to remove the Imo REC. Her mission is to manipulate the election in Imo State. Her antecedents in the last national election speak volumes.

“Let the tripartite arrangement be removed as the Police IG has done by removing the Commissioner of Police. The remaining leg must be dismantled

“Imo people and the PDP will not accept any result that is inconsistent with genuine result. We are very confident the INEC will remove the Imo REC.”

On Kogi State, Ologunagba said PDP would win, as the influence of Senator Natasha Uduaghan would help neutralise the Kogi Central Zone to the advantage of PDP.

He insisted that the two other senatorial zones in the state would cast their zones for PDP, arguing that Kogi State is a PDP state.

Don’t Test Our Resolve, IG Warns Troublemakers in Bayelsa, Kogi, Imo

The Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, yesterday warned individuals and groups intent on disrupting the elections to reconsider their actions, as the police high command was prepared to deal decisively with troublemakers.

Egbetokun also ordered the restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation, from 12.01 am to 6pm on election day in the affected states, with the exception of those on essential services, such as INEC officials, accredited electoral observers, ambulances responding to medical emergencies, firefighters, media, among others.

Moving in the same direction, the Police Service Commission (PSC) said it had concluded arrangements to deploy staff monitors for the November 11 governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa.

A statement issued by the spokesman of the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said the staff monitors were expected to be deployed to all the senatorial districts in the three states and were mandated to monitor strictly the conduct of policemen on election duties in the three states.

At a media briefing in Abuja, the Nigeria Police affirmed that in pursuit of its commitment to neutrality and as part of the bid to enhance the supervision of the elections, the IGP had deployed Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) to oversee the security arrangements and ensure the elections run smoothly in the respective states.

The police stated, “This added layer of supervision is intended to guarantee that the elections meet the highest standards of transparency and credibility.

“Therefore, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Department of Training and Development, DIG Frank Mba, has been deployed to oversee elections in Imo State; DIG Habu Sani in charge of the Department of Force Intelligence to Kogi State, and DIG Daniel Sokari-Pedro in charge of the Department of Information and Communication Technology to Bayelsa State,”

It stated that in a bid to ensure a smooth electioneering processes, the IGP ordered the distribution of an additional 220 operational vehicles, including water cannons, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), gun boats for riverine areas, helmets, bullet proof vests, tear gas canisters among others to the three affected states to intensify security arrangements for the elections to augment the already deployed assets.

The IGP, who spoke through the Force Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said, “The IG has ordered a restriction of all forms of vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation, from 12.01 am to 6 pm on election day in the affected states with the exception of those on essential services such as INEC Officials, Accredited Electoral Observers, Ambulances responding to medical emergencies, firefighters, media, etcetera.

“The order, which is part of measures emplaced to ensure a safe, secure, and conducive environment for the conduct of elections, is aimed at ensuring public order management, the safety of electorates, as well as assisting the security agencies in effective policing, thereby preventing hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from disrupting the electoral process.”

He said residents and travellers in the neighbouring states should note and plan their movements to avoid any untold hardship during the election period.

“Similarly, the IGP sternly warns all security aides and escorts to desist from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election, as anyone found flouting this directive will be severely sanctioned,” he said.

He maintained that only security personnel specifically assigned to election duties were to be within and around the designated election booths and centres.

According to him, “Also, the ban on the unauthorised use of sirens, revolving lights, covered number plates, and tinted glasses is still in force, and violators would be sanctioned appropriately.

“All state-established and owned security outfits/organisations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.”

While empathising with well-meaning residents of the affected states on the inconveniences the restrictions may cause, the IGP urged all active electorate to be law-abiding and turn out en masse to exercise their franchise.

“He however warned that the force will deal decisively with any individual(s) or group(s) that might want to test our common resolve and might to ensure a peaceful election,” he said.

The IGP enjoined the electorate and party supporters and leaders to shun vote buying, vote selling, hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation, snatching of ballot boxes, and other criminal acts, as the force and other security agencies will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all violators of extant laws, most especially the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended), faced the full wrath of the law.

The police said, “The Nigeria Police Force is aware that it is essential for citizens to have quick access to security agencies in case of emergencies or to report any security concerns during the election period.

“Therefore, we have established dedicated emergency contact numbers that the public can use to reach out to the Joint Operation Room for the elections in each state.

“The numbers are ‘Joint Operations Room Imo State – 08034773600 or 08113659301; Joint Operations Room Kogi State – 07038329084; Joint Operations Room Bayelsa State – 07034578208  09167322691.”

Meanwhile, the PSC said it had concluded arrangements to deploy staff monitors for governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa.

A statement issued by the spokesman of the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, stated that staff monitors were expected to be deployed to all the senatorial districts in the three states and were mandated to monitor strictly the conduct of policemen on election duties in the three states.

It added, “The commission will hold these police officers accountable for their actions and inactions throughout the period of the election and will not hesitate to discipline appropriately any officer found wanting in the discharge of his/her election duties.

“Chairman of the commission, Dr. Solomon Arase, who is also a retired Inspector-General of Police, said the IG of Police, Dr. Kayode Egbetokun, deserves commendation for the material support he had made available for proper policing of both the electorate and election materials.”

In Kogi, Egbetokun urged political stakeholders to play the game by it rules to avoid violence before, during and after the election on Saturday. He made this call at a one-day engagement with the critical stakeholders ahead of Kogi governorship election held in Lokoja yesterday.

The Inspector General of Police explained that there were laws guiding elections in Nigeria, adding that if everyone abides by the rules there would be no crises during the election.

The Inspector General of Police, who was represented by the Kogi State Commissioner of Police, CP Bethrand Onuoha, explained that a lot had been happening in Kogi State.

He added that some people had been blackmailing the police, stressing that police are neither political nor meant for any political party.

The police warned that anyone caught fomenting trouble before, during and after the election will be dealt with.

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