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Special Investigative Report: Politicians Go Hi-Tech For Saturday Gubernatorial Elections...

Drones To Be Deployed For Election Monitoring In Lagos And Abia
By Ovoko Williams
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As politicians and political parties make frantic last minute efforts to emerge victorious in the gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections slated for Saturday April 11th, there are indications that some of them are adopting revolutionary, hi-tech strategies to monitor the exercise and ensure that they are not rigged out through unwholesome activities at polling units. One such advanced technology being earmarked for Saturday’s polls according to the findings from multiple credible sources is the deployment of drones. 

Information at our disposal shows that the Jimi Agbaje campaign organization has concluded arrangements with an Israeli based drones’ manufacturer for the deployment of unmanned drones across Lagos for Saturday’s polls. Our reliable source who is part of the team from the Haifa based firm that arrived Lagos over the weekend revealed that the unmanned aircrafts they were contracted to supply is fitted with high capacity cameras that can record videos and capture still pictures from a very safe distance above the ground. The team is in Lagos to test run the drones ahead of Saturday. They will also be overseeing the operations of the drones during the elections from the central control center which we understand is located in Ikoyi.  

These unmanned airborne devices will be used to monitor the elections across the state and will capture real time images of incidences such as underage voting, voter intimidation, ballot box snatching and deployment of thugs. This captured information will then be relayed same real-time to the PDP situation room and will be available on various media platforms within minutes.  

Commenting on the technology and its use in election monitoring the source stated: 

 “Our Company is an international high technology firm that develops and supplies a broad range of airborne, land and naval systems and products for defense, homeland security and commercial applications. What we are deploying in Nigeria is the first of its kind and we are excited about the prospects of our technology helping to make the electoral process even more transparent for the people of this country. With our drones, incidences of disruption on election day can be captured as they occur and the footages used to educate voters, alert the security agencies or the election umpires and also provide forensic evidence for any possible post-election litigation.” 

Confirming this development, a member of the campaign organisation who has asked not to be named as he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign noted that necessary approvals were obtained for the appropriate authorities for the deployment of the drones and asked Lagosians to go out en masse on Saturday and vote for the candidate of their choice without any fear of intimidation as their vote will count regardless of the plans of the APC to manipulate the process.  

“We are aware of the desperation in the camp of the APC as it becomes clearer by the day that they are a sinking ship as far as Lagos state is concerned. All pre-election polls even those organized by their people indicate that our candidate Jimi Agbaje of the PDP is in the clear lead and is set tobregister land slide victory come Saturday. So they are now naturally confused and desperate. This desperation is manifesting in their despicable public utterances and actions. It is what drove the Oba to make a statement unbecoming of a man of his repute the other day. We are aware of all their plans to resort to the use of thugs and area boys to disrupt voting and votes collation but we are prepared for them. This time cannot be like other times when they hijacked the will of Lagosians and locked it up in Bourdillon. Our people are wiser now and want a Lagos that is for everybody not for one man and his clique. With this technology we will effectively monitor what is happening all over Lagos on Election Day and record the facts should they attempt to usurp the popular will of the people.” 

Speaking further, he revealed that the devices will be tested around selected areas of Lagos ahead of the election and urged the people not to be afraid if they sight them flying in their vicinity noting that they are not weaponised but specially designed for the purpose for which it was being deployed.  

Our investigative findings reveal that the Israeli company that manufactured the drones also received orders from at least one other campaign organisation or political party in the country. Our reporters have come upon reliable evidence suggesting that the same technology is being deployed by the Alex Otti campaign organisation for the same purpose.  Alex Otti the former bank chief who is the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia state is widely seen as the front runner for Saturday’s polls, enjoying wide support from all sections of the state and even across party lines. His rising popularity is seen as an indication of the confidence Abians have in his ability to use his experience in the corporate world to bring about meaningful development in the state  

It is not yet clear if the two campaign organisations are working in consort with the drone manufacturer especially as Jimi Agbaje and Alex Otti are of different parties but we are aware that the drones were shipped into the country at the same time and that the devices meant for use in Abia have since been delivered to Umuahia the state capital where they are also being fine-tuned and tested ahead of Saturdays exercise. 

Commenting on the development, Ademola Fagurosi, a forensic expert based in Lagos praised innovative idea describing it as a bold step towards protecting the sanctity of the ballot box and ensuring that postelection litigation is approached with incontrovertible facts.  

“If what you are telling me is true then I think this will revolutionalise elections in this country and I must commend the minds behind it. You know, the way I see it, it’s really not about the party or the candidate deploying it. For me, the ultimate beneficiaries are we the electorate who can be sure that someone is watching everything that happens on Election Day so that if anyone tries to steal our mandate, they will meet their waterloo. It also makes things very easy for forensic experts like me who are often called in to audit electoral exercises. With the hard core evidence this technology will provide, we should not find it difficult confirming who stole their way to power.” 

There has been no official statement from both the Jimi Agbaje campaign organisations and the Alex Otti for Abia team. Both calls and text messages to their respective directors of Media and publicity were not responded to as at press time. However, the feelers from the Jimi Agbaje camp indicate palpable excitement as the members who are privy to the plan are upbeat about its effectiveness and are confident that it would be effectively utilized in policing the ballot and ensuring victory for their candidate come Saturday.