Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, and the General Officer Commanding 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Gen. Mohammed Abubakar, have warned troublemakers to stay away from the state.
The nation’s number one policeman issued his warning on Thursday in Abuja, while speaking with State House correspondents, after a meeting of the sub-committee on the funding of the police reform programme.
Abubakar said, “The restriction is not for the three days. It is from 6pm on Thursday because we want to ensure that people do not take arms and ammunition (into the state), or import people who ordinarily are not supposed to be in Ondo for the election.”
He said he had used his visit to the state on Wednesday to study the terrain and instruct his men on how to ensure a hitch-free election.
The GOC issued his own warning shortly after arriving at the 32 Artillery Brigade Akure, on Thursday, to address the soldiers to be deployed in the state for the poll.
The GOC said, “No movement on that day except for those on essential duties and those on election duty. No hunting on election day.
“I am happy that the IG has said that there will be no fishing during the poll. I don’t want to hear that I am going to the bush to hunt. Anybody with arms must be arrested. If he resists arrest, shoot him; I give you the order.”
The GOC said that movement would be restricted from 6am to 6pm but added that motorists passing through the state to other parts of the country would only be allowed passage after they had proved that they were not going to the state.
The GOC said he had received a petition from a political party (he declined to name the party) that one of the contestants had bribed some soldiers to allow his party to rig during the election.
He promised that he would not be a party to such an arrangement and warned that any soldier found colluding with any party would be severely dealt with.
He said, “No amount of money they promised you would turn you into MKO Abiola or (Aliko) Dangote. These people worked for their money. So be satisfied with what the Nigerian Army is paying you.
“Our purpose of being here in Ondo State is to support INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), the police and the people of the state to ensure a peaceful election. You and I will not vote even if you have registered. Your work is to enable INEC to conduct a peaceful poll and to allow others to vote without fear.
“The last election in Edo State was conducted under 2 Division and it was peaceful. I want Ondo State election to be peaceful also. You won’t stay at the polling booths but you will provide security for the people.”
Major General Abubakar assured the people of the state that the army had mapped out strategies to identify fake soldiers who might want to infiltrate the genuine troops deployed by Nigerian Army.
He said there would be a dress code for the troops, adding that it would be easy for real soldiers to identify fake ones.
The GOC declined to give the number of soldiers to be deployed, but he said that soldiers had been moved in from several formations to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.
Meanwhile, INEC, on Thursday, began the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to be used in the conduct of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
The materials distributed amidst heavy security were to be used for the election in Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state.
The materials had been kept in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Akure since they were brought into the state last week.Representatives of various political parties were present during the distribution of the materials and they expressed satisfaction with the condition in which they met them.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Mr. Akin Orebiyi, said that the materials were being taken to the Forward Operational Base of the Nigerian Navy at Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje Local Government Area.
He said that adequate security had been put in place to safeguard the election materials.
The early distribution of the materials, according to Orebiyi, is to ensure the efficient transfer of election materials to the far-flung areas of the state.
Orebiyi said the collection of materials by INEC signified the commencement of the governorship election.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of the South-West, Prof. Lai Olurode, said the commission was ready to conduct a better poll in Ondo State.
He assured that INEC would not be partisan in the conduct of the poll and urged anyone with a complaint against any official to submit such to the commission. He said the materials distributed had been kept with the CBN.