Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo, armed soldiers and anti-riot policemen have taken over major streets in major towns of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the armed soldiers could be seen strategically positioned along major roads and streets in the state capital, Benin, and others cities such as Auchi, Uromi and Ekpoma.
The armed soldiers conducted stop and search of vehicles.
NAN reports that the heavy security presence may not be unconnected with various allegations and counter-allegations that have greeted the governorship election.
There have been allegations by political parties of plans to rig the election with fake policemen, Independent National Electoral Commission officials and the use of fake voter cards.
Meanwhile, newsmen are also facing difficulty in getting accreditation for the election slated for Saturday. As at the time of filling this report, several journalists from within and outside the state had yet to be accredited.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Abdulwaheed Omar, has assured workers in Edo State that there will be a peaceful election in the state on Saturday.
Omar advised the workers to turn out in large numbers to exercise their franchise and conduct themselves in an orderly manner during and after the governorship election.
The labour leader told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday that the labour union was keeping a tab on events concerning the election in the state. He said he was concerned about the increasing spate of deaths arising from political activities in the state and urged security operatives to check violence during the election.
Omar advised President Goodluck Jonathan to fulfil his promise by providing adequate security for the people during the election. “I want to assure the people that there will be a peaceful and free election in that state.
“Don’t forget that President Jonathan, at the Ogbemudia stadium in Benin, gave assurance of a peaceful election in that state as the Nigerian president. If we get it right in this election, it will be good not just for Edo, but for Nigeria as a whole because the world is watching.
“He (Jonathan) promised that the election would be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere devoid of rigging,” the NLC president said.
Omar said he was happy and satisfied with the peaceful way the people of Edo State had been conducting themselves properly during the electoral process in the state. NAN reports that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said the people of Edo would witness a fair electoral process in the conduct of governorship election.
“We are working day and night, doing our best to ensure that there is a free, fair and credible election in Edo State. I am here to make sure that everything has been done as planned before the election on Saturday. We have done everything possible within the rules and regulations to accredit observers for the election in Edo.
We have used the same procedures we have always been using in all the elections since the April 2011 general elections. We apply the criteria in a number of states; we normally advertise and people are given time within which to apply,” he said.
Prominent lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to withdraw the soldiers deployed in Edo State for the governorship election.
Edo State Governor and candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria in Saturday’s governorship election, Adams Oshiomhole, has defended the deployment of the military in the state for the election, saying it is the best thing to make the election safe, free and fair.
The NHRC stated that it had deployed 234 monitors in Edo State for the exercise.
July 13, 11:54 am
The National Human Rights Commission on Thursday said it would monitor the conduct of security personnel in the governorship election in Edo state with a call on them to “respect the fundamental human rights of all citizens.”