COUNCIL OF STATE APPROVES DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS 48 HOURS TO ELECTION
The National Council of State (NCS) has approved the deployment of troops comprising – mobile policemen, conventional policemen, and other law enforcement agencies as well as the military on the streets 48 hours before the elections to forestall violence during voting.
Briefing State House correspondents, at the end of a five-hour meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Inspector- General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim, in company with the governors of Kwara, Anambra and Gombe States as well as the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, warned that those out to forment trouble during the elections would be arrested and prosecuted.
He said the deployment of security agents was expected to ward off any political, religious and ethnic inspired violence during the polls, which is expected to begin on Saturday.
According to Ringim: '48 hours or more before the elections, there would be increased deployment of mobile policemen, conventional policemen, and other law enforcement agencies as well as the military. This is with a view to ensuring that no chances or opportunities are allowed for thugs, rogues and vagabonds in order to make proper efforts to disrupt the exercise,' he said.
Ringim stated further that 'apart from this deployment, at the polling unit, there shall be police and other law enforcement agencies whose duty it is to proper conduct of electorate and voters as well as security of voting materials as well as INEC officials.'
He stated further that 'there shall be patrol in and around all voting areas by armed policemen as well as armed military offices. The fact remains that this country as well as the law enforcement agents representing this country are determined and will not allow any act of thuggery, any act of violence and any act that would disrupt the conduct of free, fair, rancour-free, peaceful as well as acceptable general elections.'
'For the avoidance of doubt, I want to make it clear that anybody within the vicinity of this election process that is found to be doing any act or conducting themselves in any manner inimical to the peaceful conduct of this election shall be arrested and shall be prosecuted,' he warned.
Ringim said: 'The much talked about distances or that people would be allowed to stay or not at the polling station, they would be allowed to stay there as long as they conduct themselves peacefully and not otherwise. Anybody that is found to be in a position to threaten the conduct of the election shall be arrested and prosecuted.'
Asked to assure on the security agents' impartiality during the polls, the IGP rained insults on journalists, describing them as irresponsible and unreasonable and walked out of the briefing and refused to answer further questions.
Jega, on his part, said the electoral body had finalised arrangements to ensure a free, fair, credible and violence-free elections.
'I made a presentation on behalf of INEC to the council on the state of preparedness and in summary, INEC is now well prepared, well positioned to conduct elections, which will go a long way to satisfy the aspirations of Nigerians for free and fair elections. We have prepared adequately in terms of logistics, in terms of the training of our staff and in terms of effective liaison with security agencies in order to provide security before, during and after the elections.'
Jega stated that 'There is a lot that have been put into this exercise and we plead for the support of all Nigerians to make the elections free and credible and to also make them non-violence. We preach peace and we want to work towards peace and to ensure there is no conduct on election day'.
'I am very please that one of the key issues at the council of state today was the commitment of all stake holders to promote peace, to promote non-violence and to ensure that voters are adequately educated,' he stressed.
Speaking on the voting time the INEC boss said anybody coming after 12 noon will not be accredited adding anyone on queue before then would be accredited.
He maintained that 'anybody who isn't on queue for voting after 12.30 pm won't be allowed to vote. We are fully prepared for the election that is coming next Saturday'.
While appealing to Nigerians to ensure that there is peace and no violence during the polls, Jega said 'NCS assurance of full commitment to ensuring that the election is free, fair and credible is welcoming'.