Police ready for Bayelsa poll with 14,000 more officers
TO beef up security as the Bayelsa governorship election holds on Saturday, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, has deployed no fewer than an additional 14, 000 policemen in the state.
Besides, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that those without valid Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) would not be allowed to vote. The electoral umpire said it would yesterday hand over 52,000 PVCs to the Bayelsa State electoral commissioner.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, has said that Chief Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the best candidate among those jostling for the Bayelsa State governorship position. He, therefore, urged the people to vote for the former governor in the Saturday’s poll.
Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (who represented Buhari), National Leader of APC Bola Tinubu, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, endorsed their party’s flag-bearer, while speaking during the grand finale of the APC campaign which was held at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, yesterday.
Buhari enjoined the people of Bayelsa State to vote for the flag-bearer, whom he said would bring in a new era of peace and prosperity to the state.
He said: “The time for change, prosperity, good governance has come to Bayelsa. So, Bayelsa people should not miss the train of change.”
In a related development, the four APC members who were arrested on Monday by soldiers attached to former President Goodluck Jonathan have denied being hired assassins or praise-singers.
The IGP told journalists yesterday at the state Police Command Headquarters, Yenagoa, that the police would deploy officers in all the nooks and crannies of the state, including the riverine areas, before, during and after the voting exercise.
He said he was in the state to have an interactive session with all the stakeholders, including security outfits, party leadership, residents and officials of the electoral commission.
The police boss added that he was also in town to touch base with all the police officers that would be involved in Saturday’s election, on their conduct during the exercise, revealing also that all the waterways would be locked down to prevent external infiltration.
On the recent accusation and counter-accusation by the two leading parties participating in the election over allegations of plans to infiltrate the rank and file of his officers with fake policemen, Arase warned that any attempt by any individual or group to do that would be an exercise in futility since a unique identification process would be put in place by the police.
His words: “It would be a bad investment for any unscrupulous individual or group, who tries to scuttle the process by employing fake policemen during the poll, because, we are putting in place a unique identity process, that can’t be beaten.
“I am apolitical and not interested in any political party. My own brief is to ensure robust police and security architecture during elections,’’ he said.
In his address to his officers later, the inspector general of police warned them to be of good behavior during the election and at all times. He also advised them against doing the bidding of politicians, whom he said would ditch them after the election and could not help them if they were in trouble over any unprofessional conduct.
“Don’t sacrifice your career for a politician. Don’t succumb to intimidation or enticement, be apolitical,’’ he warned. “Don’t be in anyway involved with any party, if and when you get into trouble for any misconduct, they can’t help you, especially when they get into government.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmud, revealed that about 52,000 PVCs that represent the balance of the unissued voters’ cards meant for the state, had been transferred to the state and that he would personally hand over the cards to the state electoral commissioner after the stakeholders’ meeting.
According to Mahmud, nobody will be allowed to vote in the election, if they don’t have PVCs.
“I came to meet with the stakeholders in the state and to assure them of the commission’s readiness to ensure a free and fair election on Saturday.
“We have brought in the 52,000 PVCs that are outstanding for the state and I would personally hand them over to the state resident electoral commissioner this morning. This is good news, and all these would be communicated to the stakeholders in the interactive session that we are holding with them after we leave this place.’’
Mahmud, who came into town with six INEC commissioners, said, the card readers would be the only instruments acceptable for the conduct of Saturday’s election, because “it is the best option available to the commission at the moment.
“I am confident of the card readers, because they have been tested severally and they have passed in flying colours.
Apart from this, they also have back-ups in case of challenges. Saturday’s election would be free and fair. However, it will be operation ‘No card reader, no voting.”
The youths who spoke with The Guardian at the Kaiama venue of the APC campaign rally organised for its governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, said there was a case of mistaken identity and misunderstanding between them and the security detail of Jonathan.
Emmanuel Nanyo, Walter Bala, Toiene Easter and Ben Belendayo told The Guardian they had arrived at the state capital on Monday morning for the party’s rally at Swali Market, Yenagoa and that after the event, they were in their own car when a convoy went by which they joined, believing that it belonged to that of Sylva .They said they followed a particular army vehicle, believing it was providing security cover for the APC candidate.
“We thought the army vehicle was part of Sylva’s security cover,’’ said Emmanuel Nanyo, who spoke for the group.
“We didn’t know it was Dr. Jonathan’s convoy and we didn’t even see him throughout the incident. The soldiers in the vehicle flagged us down and took us to the Ekeki Police Station, where they handed us over to the policemen there. We were released about three hours later, on the orders of the state commissioner of police.”