All eyes on INEC as Nigeria decides.

• Voters Upbeat Across States
• Police, NSCDC, NCS, NDLEA, EFCC, NIS Deploy 425,106 Operatives For Polls
• IGP Withdraws Orderlies From VIPs
• Voting Opens At 8.30am, Says INEC
• Commission Postpones Enugu East Senatorial Election Over Death Of LP Candidate

As Nigerians of voting age troop out in their numbers today to participate in the presidential and National Assembly elections, security agencies have urged voters not to entertain any fear, assuring that adequate arrangements had been made to ensure their safety before, during and after the elections.

The Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the lead agency for election security, disclosed that 425,106 security operatives had been deployed nationwide to secure the environment.

The police also warned any person or group of persons planning to foment trouble in any part of the country in the course of the exercise to cancel the idea or face the dire consequences.

This was as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) assured Nigerians that it has concluded arrangements to commence elections at 8.30am today. INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, and Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, stated these yesterday during a joint media briefing at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.

The Guardian observed tight security at the International Conference Centre (ICC), which will also serve as the collation centre for the presidential election results.

“Voting begins at 8.30am and ends at 2.30pm tomorrow. However, any voter who is on the queue before 2.30pm will be allowed to vote even if voting goes beyond the official closing time. No voter will be disenfranchised. I wish all Nigerians a pleasant voting experience tomorrow,” he stated.

Yakubu also announced the suspension of the Enugu East senatorial election over the death of Oyibo Chukwu, Labour Party’s candidate. He said the election would now hold alongside the governorship polls on March 11.

Chukwu was killed and set ablaze at Amechi Awkunanaw in Enugu South local council last Wednesday, after gunmen opened fire on his convoy killing him and his personal assistant

Yakubu said the commission has received a formal communication from the party informing it of the death of its candidate for Enugu East Senatorial District.

He added: “The party also conveyed its intention to participate in the election for that constituency by replacing its deceased candidate. This request is in line with the provision of the law. For clarity, I wish to quote verbatim the provision of Section 34(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 as follows:

“If, after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.

“The Labour Party has provided satisfactory evidence of the death of its candidate. Consequently, the Commission has suspended the election in the senatorial district as provided by Law. We have already communicated this decision to our Enugu State office. Therefore, there will be no senatorial election in Enugu East Senatorial District made up of six Local Government Areas, 77 Wards and 1,630 Polling Units.

“The election will now be combined with the Governorship and State Assembly elections holding in the next two weeks on March 11, 2023. Materials already delivered for the senatorial election will remain in the custody of the Central Bank in the state until the new date for election.”

Speaking on reports that over 100 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members trained as Electoral Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers in three local councils of Imo State withdrew their participation in the election, Yakubu said the Commission received assurance from security agencies that with enough mobilisation of security personnel to the area, it is possible for elections to hold in those locations.

“I have been in touch with the IGP who will brief us on their plans to secure these locations for elections to hold peacefully when he addresses us shortly.

“Generally speaking, the situation nationwide is calm as far as our preparations are concerned. There has been no incident involving the personnel or huge quantities of materials deployed by the Commission. Voter enthusiasm is high and so too is our determination to conduct credible elections,” he stated.

The INEC chairman further disclosed that progress had been made with regard to the movement of materials to the various locations around the country.

“Having deployed these materials to the Local Government Areas, we are today devolving the deployment to the Registration Area Centres (RACs) so that early morning tomorrow the polls will open as planned. These RACs have been activated and election duty staff have started arriving in them,” he said.

Speaking, the IGP disclosed that 425,106 security operatives would be deployed for the poll, adding that the figure excludes members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

He said the personnel were drawn from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Correctional Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service.

He stated that while the Nigeria Police would provide a large trunk of personnel with 310,973, the anti-graft agency would provide the least number with 350 operatives.

“In the Police, we have 310,973; Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, 51,000; Federal Road Safety Corps, 21,000; Nigerian Correctional Service, 11,336; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, 9,447; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 350; Nigeria Immigration Service, 21,000,” he disclosed.

Yakubu said both police operatives and personnel of other security agencies were expected to adhere to their oaths of allegiance in the course of their duties.

When asked how the Force intends policing Very Important Personalities (VIP), the IGP explained that orderlies attached to them would be withdrawn during the polls.

He stated that the Force expects the VIPs to drop their armed bodyguards or orderlies from escorting them to the polling booths.

Even if escorted to the polling units, the police chief said their orderlies should stay at a distance for the VIP to cast his or her votes before being escorted away.

“Just like in any other election, we expect our VIPs to drop their bodyguards/orderlies that are armed in escorting them to the polling stations.

“Even if they escort them, they should stop or stay at a distance so that the person can cast his votes and leave with his aides.

“We do not expect our men in the polling units. We have told our officers to comply. Those of them with the VIPs have also been communicated through our medium of communication,” he added.

Earlier, the Deputy Inspector-General Police in charge of Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) and South-West Zone, DIG Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, who spoke with journalists last Thursday evening, said the police was super ready for the exercise, stressing that it would be devoid of violence.

Kokumo assured that there would not be any loophole for troublemakers to operate, adding that the state would be well policed.

According to him, more than 27,000 police personnel were deployed to Lagos for the elections, while other sister security agencies would join the number to secure the electorate during and after the elections.

He, however, urged the police personnel to ensure that they abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act.

“We are supposed to be apolitical. We should not unleash terror on the members of the public. Don’t use arm on harmless members of the public. We are to be civil, respect the rights of citizens. We are to collaborate with sister security agencies, but we are to take lead according to the Electoral Act,” he said.

The DIG further said that the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, had ordered for special deployment to man the air, land and water, with collaboration with sister security agencies operating in those areas.

He urged the Lagos Command to set up a special electoral investigation team at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, where all cases and arrest relating to the election would be treated immediately. He also urged the command to ensure that the border posts would be well policed with a view to preventing non-Nigerians from coming into the country during the elections.

EARLIER, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Idowu Owohunwa, assured the DIG that his men would not disappoint residents and the nation at large.

He said: “I assure you, DIG, that we will not fail in Lagos as a command with God’s guidance and the commitment of the men I have. We will not fail the nation. We are assuring the people of Lagos that we will not fail in our election duties. We shall make the nation proud.”

The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, also warned personnel of the corps against any form of compromise with political actors, adding that anyone found wanting would be decisively dealt with.

Audi, who spoke yesterday, also charged officers and men of the Corps to avoid accidental discharge, saying no pardon would be given to defaulters.

“Let me warn all personnel, most especially, the arms bearers, to allow the rules of engagement to reverberate in their head and guide them in exercising an enormous amount of caution and carefulness.

“For anyone found compromising, working for any political party or involved in accidental discharge during these elections; we will not only dismiss you, but we will also prosecute you to teach others a very big lesson,” the CG warned.

Come Out And Exercise Your Franchise, AIG Charges Rivers Residents
THE Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Abutu Yaro in-charge of elections in Rivers State, has assured residents of the state of adequate security before, during and after elections.

The AIG, at a press briefing last Thursday alongside four Commissioners of Police deployed to the state for the elections, warned mischief makers and persons who plan to truncate the peaceful process of the elections to steer clear as the police and other sister security agencies would not allow such to thrive.

According to him, the high-powered delegation was mandated by the IGP to undertake election security management in the state.

He also said the police was determined to ensure professionalism and rancour-free election in the state.

Yaro further said he expected politicians to act in tandem with the law, especially the Electoral Act and Criminal Code.

His words: “There is no alternative to peace. We encourage all persons and all police officers to be professional in the discharge of their duties. We will ensure that the election is rancour-free and peaceful. We will keep you abreast as the election progresses.

“The only legacy we can impact as individuals is legacy of peace. We owe a duty to God and to the state to preserve the legacy of peace.

“Persons with ulterior motive whose ideas are different from normal, we are not going to fold our arms and allow that situation to exist. We must ensure the environment remains peaceful and human activities conducted in the most peaceful way.

“Election security management in Nigeria has no provision for vigilante group either under the electoral law or under the constitution. Sufficient policemen have been deployed to cover Rivers State. I urge residents to come out en masse and vote for candidates of their choice without fear.”

No Cause For Alarm In Akwa Ibom, CP Assures
THE Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, CP Olatoye Durosinmi, has declared the preparedness of the force to maintain the peace in the state during and after the elections.

In an interview with The Guardian, yesterday, CP Durosinmi said the police was ready to protect all citizens that are prepared to vote during the elections.

His words: “We are ready and in the area of training, we have done our training at different stages. INEC training too has actually been attended both in our office here and in INEC office. Officers and men of the command have actually been tutored on the new electoral law and the roles expected of them in the coming elections. In addition, we have gotten some equipment from the force headquarters, which will enhance our performance.

We are very apolitical and our men have been lectured to remain neutral. All political parties are equal before us; all candidates are equal before us and they will all be given equal treatment.

“So, there is no cause for alarm; our men are ready to protect all citizens that are prepared to vote during elections. Eligible voters should come out and vote. We are more than ready to protect the electorate. Patrol vehicles have been deployed to the right places and there will be enough men in each of the polling units. We are working with other services including the army to ensure that citizens that are ready to vote during this election are well protected so that they can actually perform their civic duties as entrenched in the constitutions, hence people should come out en mass and vote.”

Cash Scarcity May Affect Voter Turnout In Taraba 
THE Bauchi State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Yakubu Ibrahim, has pledged to ensure that today’s presidential and National Assembly elections in the state would be violence free and credible.

This was as The Guardian observed that the state may record poor voter turnout due to scarcity of cash, which was caused by the naira swap policy.

Nevertheless, Ibrahim maintained that the Corps was working in collaboration with other security agencies to ensure free, fair, credible and violence-free polls.

“We all conjoined in what we called the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Violence; all ensuring that the forthcoming polls are credible, free and fair,” he said.

Some eligible voters, who barred their minds to The Guardian, said their dreams of coming out to vote had been frustrated by the current scarcity of cash in the polity

A resident, Adamu Sani, who claimed to be a father of nine, said: “As far as I am concerned, coming out to vote this Saturday is not going to be possible, because I cannot be struggling to access my money in the bank and you will be waiting in queue expecting me to vote.”

IGP Deploys Three CPs, More Officers To Imo
TO ensure security of lives and property during today’s polls, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has deployed three Commissioners of Police (CPs) to Imo State.

Already, there is increased presence of security officers in parts of Owerri, the state capital, and the suburbs.

According to a statement issued on Thursday evening by police spokesperson in the state, Henry Okoye, the CPs who would cover the three zones of the state were CP Banji Ogunrinde (Imo East Zone), CP Chris Aimionowane (Imo West Zone) and CP Alex Wannang (Imo North).

Okoye added that other officers would support them.

The statement said: “In compliance with the IGPs directives, three Commissioners of Police have been deployed to Imo State to provide water tight security before, during and after the 2023 elections. The officers have resumed duty and are strategising on the already existing security architecture in order to provide effective security before, during and after the elections in all nooks and crannies of the state.

“The CPs posted for the election duties in the state assured the good people of Imo State and all political actors of absolute neutrality and a level playing ground for them to exercise their civic responsibilities in the forthcoming presidential, National Assembly, as well as the state assembly elections respectively and has equally warned the agents of destabilisation to have a rethink as officers and men are adequately equipped to deal decisively with any recalcitrant element.”

The statement added that, “this deployment is to ensure that no stone is left unturned in providing a conducive atmosphere for the good people of Imo State to exercise their franchise and also to conduct the 2023 general election devoid of political thuggery and other menaces before, during and after the 2023 election.”

In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) distributed sensitive materials to the 27 local councils of the state last Thursday. The exercise took place at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office along Port Harcourt Road, Owerri.

The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Sylvia Agu, with other officials conducted the exercise.

About 2.4 million voters in the state are expected to cast their votes to their preferred candidates.

Unfortunately, scores of persons who spoke with The Guardian complained of the biting hardship occasioned by the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

A prospective voter, who identified herself simply as Nwamaka, said: “I managed to pay N4,000 to get a cash of N20,000. This means that I went home with only N16,000 while the Point of Sale (POS) operator took N4,000. This is sad. We cannot sustain this. I will manage to travel to village to vote. How about those who cannot afford that?”

Another prospective voter, John, also said: “The new policy is restrictive. To travel now is a problem for my family and I. There is no cash at hand.”

Obaseki, Security Chiefs Assure Voters Of Peaceful Exercise In Edo
THE Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has assured residents that the security agencies were fully prepared to ensure a peaceful conduct of today’s presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Briefing journalists after a security meeting with security chiefs in the state, held at the Government House, Benin City, Obaseki said all security agencies in the state were ready to provide a safe and secure environment for the elections, urging voters to come out en masse to perform their constitutional duties without fear of intimidation or harassment.

“I am quite satisfied with the level of coordination and cooperation among the security agencies. They have made known how they intend to secure each polling unit, ward collation centre, local government collation centre and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Benin City.

“Our appeal now is for the citizens to come out and fulfill their constitutional duties. It is also time to warn all of those who plan to foment trouble not to even attempt it because the security agencies are more than ready to deal with anyone who foments trouble.

“People should come out peacefully, go to their polling units, make sure that they conduct themselves peacefully, go through the accreditation, vote and leave the polling units until it is time for sorting if they have to be there,” he said.

Obaseki further noted, “citizens should note that from 12 midnight, Saturday 25th, movements will be restricted until 6 pm after elections are over.”

On his part, the Commissioner of Police in charge of elections in Edo State, CP Ben Okolo, noted that over 11,000 security operatives had been deployed to ensure a peaceful election in the state.

Okolo said: “We are looking at over 11,200 security operatives. We have made preparations; we have deployed men and logistics and there is a fantastic synergy between all the services.

“I want to assure members of the public of the preparation of all security agencies to ensure safety as well as a conducive environment for a free, fair and credible election. Nobody should ferment trouble. It is unacceptable and they will be prosecuted.”

We’ll Not Condone Violence In Plateau, Security Agencies Warn
AS the presidential and National Assembly elections hold today nationwide, the Plateau State Police Command has assured the general public of adequate security of lives and property before, during and after the polls.             In a statement by its spokesman, DSP Alfred Alabo, the Command warned potential mischief makers who planned to foment trouble during the elections to abort their mischievous plans as the police would not treat such persons with levity if arrested.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Division of the Nigerian Army and Commander Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Maj-Gen. Abdulsalami Ibrahim, also warned troops to remain apolitical throughout the election, charging them to maintain maximum aggressive posture against criminal elements and the enemies of the state.

Ibrahim urged the soldiers not to be partisan, commending them for their continued efforts in protecting lives and property wherever they are deployed to.

He urged them to safeguard critical national assets against attacks by armed criminals who are bent on destabilising the economic and social life of the country, saying they should remain committed, disciplined, dedicated and absolutely loyal to constituted authority at all times.

Similarly, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) equally said that they were on the alert to frustrate and puncture any planned attacks on citizens and election materials, noting that such evil machinations would be decimated.

Stakeholders Work Towards Peaceful Elections In Kogi
THE headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, was a beehive of activities yesterday ahead of the presidential and National Assembly elections today.

Journalists, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and observers were issued their accreditation tags to enable them monitor the elections.

On the part of the security agencies, the Commissioner of Police in the state has said that his men and other sister agencies had been fully mobilised to ensure a hitch-free exercise in the state.

Residents were also in high spirits. A visit to the local council INEC offices in Lokoja, Kogi Ajaokuta and Okene saw a large number of prospective voters checking their names on the notice boards to know their voting points.

Some of them, who spoke with The Guardian, expressed optimism that the election would be free and fair, saying that was the reason for their renewed interest in the system.

Meanwhile, Governor Yahaya Bello has warned residents against any breakdown of law and order. He called on citizens to exercise restraint and respect each other’s opinions.

The governor, who spoke yesterday, said: “As we are going into the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, I want to charge all of us that elections are a time for us to come together, to express our opinions and to make our voices heard. It is not a time for violence or any other form of disruption.

“I urge all citizens to practice restraint, respect for one another’s opinions and focus on the issues at hand. We have been canvassing support for the success of our party and I am sure we are going to deliver all our candidates from the presidency to the State Assembly 100 per cent. As we go into the elections, let me state here that we must respect the rule of law and the democratic process.”

To ensure a peaceful election, the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Kogi State chapter, in collaboration with Renaissance Care and Empowerment Foundation (RECEF), and Grassroots Advancement in Nigeria (INGRA) have organised a peace accord meeting for all political parties participating in the election in Kogi West Senatorial District.

During the meeting, the candidates of various political parties in the western senatorial district signed the peace pact to show their commitment to a safe and peaceful election in the state.

The signing of the peace accord was the high point of a meeting previously held with the candidates, civil society organisation, political parties, members of the youth council and strategic stakeholders.

The accord pact agreement was read by the representative of NYC, Idris Mohammed Muazu, who said all candidates contesting for House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate in the district collectively agreed to ensure peaceful and credible elections in the their various constituencies.

We’ve Identified Hot Spots In Osun, Come Out Without Fear, Police Tell Residents
IN Osun State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was in last minute preparation when The Guardian visited the State Office of the commission yesterday. Accredited commercial vehicles were seen parked at the entrance of the office as security agents including the military, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were strategically placed to ensure order and protection of staff.

Staff and ad-hoc workers recruited by the electoral umpire were seen arriving the state office in the morning.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr. Mutiu Agboke, in an interview, said all sensitive and non-sensitive materials had been moved to the local council offices across the state for deployment to polling units today.

Speaking on last minute preparations and what has been done so far, Agboke said: “As I speak to you, all our materials, sensitive, non-sensitive, semi-sensitive, non-semi sensitive, have been deployed to the local government offices. Later today (Friday), I am going to move round and all local government electoral officers will move to RACs. RAC is the temporary place created by INEC for all the staff of the commission (ad-hoc and permanent) that will work, where they will wait, they will sleep, they will refresh, they will be re-trained about BIVAS, about procedure, they will have a fresher course overnight such that early in the morning (Saturday), from there, to the polling units.

“Our deal with Osun people is that polls open 8:30 tomorrow (Saturday) and before 8:30, our officials are already there. Polls are expected to close by 2:30pm subject to the people on the queue being allowed to cast their votes. In other words, at 2:30pm, there won’t be fresh people that would be allowed to join the queue and vote again. We would have deployed necessary BIVAS that would ease up the congestion. So, we are not going to experience indefinite voting in this election.

“When poll closes, the next place is to go to RA collation level with the collation officers and all of them will move from RA to local government, from local government, then, depending on the election, that of the Representative and Senatorial will end at their levels or the districts as it were, then the presidential will end at the state office of INEC,” he explained.

Asked about the efforts of the commission to tackle vote buying, the REC said, “arrangement on ground against vote buying is the synergy between EFCC, ICPC and the Police and I know that ICPC chairman was in my office yesterday and we still talked about it. So, all of them are our strength. The police are given ICPC strength to operate. So, anybody that tries it will go to jail.”

While urging voters in the state to troop out and exercise their franchise, Agboke added: “People of Osun, this is your time. Those who think you don’t mean anything, this is your time to prove them wrong. All this while, they thought you are not important, they thought they can buy you, they thought they can seduce you, but, don’t sell your conscience, don’t sell your votes.”

Meanwhile, the newly deployed Commissioner of Police for the election, CP Peter Abayomi, yesterday, said the force had identified flashpoints and volatile areas, assuring that any attempt to cause violence would be forestalled.

Abayomi urged residents to file out and vote candidates of their choice without fear, saying: “Before this time, we had done security threats analysis for all the local government areas in the federation including Osun State, where we are. We have identified volatile areas, flash points within the state. We have made adequate preparation and deployment to checkmate the activities of those who don’t mean well for the state and so, in conjunction with other security agencies in the state, we have made robust deployment of all security agencies to the polling units purposely to maintain security in those areas, protect lives and properties and ensure that good people of Osun State come out to conduct their civic responsibility without intimidation and harassment and ward-off would be troublemakers in the areas under our purviews. We are fully prepared and ready to conduct the election in an atmosphere of peace.

“I had meeting with party stakeholders yesterday in which we made it clear that the state will not tolerate any acts that are capable of causing breach of peace and instill fear in members of the public. We are not unawares of some challenges in some local government areas like Atakunmosa East and West, Ilesa East and West, where some hoodlums have unleashed terror on the people of those areas. But we can assure you that we are very prepared.

“In principle, the politicians committed themselves to peaceful conduct but we wait to see how that goes. For those who want to make trouble, we are ready for them. The laws are also there to punish them. We will deal adequately with the situation as it unravels itself.”

Similarly, Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, has called on the people of the state to mobilise and troop out peacefully to elect leaders of their choice.

In a pre-election statement he personally signed, Adeleke described the election as a critical milestone to decide the future of the nation.

He said: “My good people of Osun State, the general election is here and we have a patriotic duty to actively join the electioneering process. Your vote is your power and your ticket to securing good governance for yourselves and our future generation.

“Our government has declared today a public holiday. All eligible voters must take up their voting cards and get set for the historical elections tomorrow. The electoral authorities have provided an enabling environment for the conduct of free and fair elections. Security agencies have also mobilised to protect citizens as they exercise their constitutional rights.”

“Let me use this medium to warn against electoral violence. Security agencies are under strict instruction to clamp down on hoodlums and agents of violence. I have equally instructed service commanders to arrest thugs wherever they may be. This election must be held under a peaceful atmosphere. Democracy is about choice, not killing and maiming.

“I urge all of us as agents and lovers of democracy to make Osun State the most peaceful throughout this election period and beyond. We are peace loving people and we must remain so, now and all the time.”

No Signs Of Voter Apathy In Cross River
THERE is much anxiety and interest in the presidential election in Cross River State, as a large number of people were seen on street corners and some meeting points discussing how they may vote today. Between Thursday and yesterday, motor parks were beehives of activity with passengers hustling to travel to their villages to vote.

At the Okorogbo Street garage of the Akwa Ibom State Transport Company, many passengers were seen trying to board vehicles to their villages to enable them vote in the election.

A passenger, Daniel Ekong, said: “I am going home to vote because I want to ensure my choice candidate wins.”

At the popular Watt and Marian markets, residents were busy making purchases for the weekend since movement would be restricted till today evening.

At the state Police Headquarters, police vehicles and personnel were lined out in readiness for deployment to various local councils of the state.

At the state office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), officials of the commission and security agents were busy putting finishing touches when The Guardian visited.

However, the usual large crowd at the office on election eve was low since the commission had distributed sensitive materials to the 18 local councils of the state last Wednesday.

2.3 Million People Expected To Vote In
Jigawa, Says REC
A TOTAL of 2.3 million registered voters are heading to the polls to elect the president and members of the National Assembly in Jigawa State today. A breakdown of the figures shows that 1.2 million voters are females while 1.1 million are males.

The state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)), also confirmed that the election would take place in 4,519 out of the 4,522 polling units spread across the local councils of the state.

The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Muhammad Lawal Bashar, while giving the update on the final stage of the preparations for the elections, yesterday, noted that so far, over 2.2 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) had been collected as at February 5 while about 59,000 PVCs were yet to be collected during the period under consideration.

He linked the high figure of uncollected PVCs to factors like double or multiple registrations and dislocation of some persons by natural disasters.

According to the state REC, a total of 4,580 Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) had been configured and fully delivered to all the 27 local councils of the state for charging and refresher training for 301 RATechs and their postings accordingly.

Confirming the deployment of both sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to the 27 local councils, the INEC chief admitted that the deployment experienced initial challenges, which were however overcome.

Anambra Voters Relocate To Registration Areas
THE cool breeze and quietude that saturated Anambra State yesterday were clear indications that the residents were ready for today’s presidential and National Assembly elections. The enthusiasm of the electorate in the state was high, as residents were moving to their registration areas ahead of time to enable them participate in the election.

At the state office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Awka, both the staff of the commission and ad-hoc workers were seen making last minute efforts to ensure the success of the elections.

Movement of sensitive and other materials that started few days ago continued yesterday, likewise the accreditation of those that have something to do with the elections.

Last Thursday, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Echeng E.Echeng, had assured residents of a peaceful environment for the exercise, even as he cautioned political gladiators and their supporters to play the game according to rules.

Echeng had warned that anyone found wanting would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The Commissioner had assured that there would be improved security in the state before, during and after the election.

The Guardian observed that in what looked like a show of strength, police teams continued to parade the state yesterday. Also, about 15 armoured tanks belonging to the Nigerian Army patrolled the streets.

Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Tochukwu Ikenga, in a statement yesterday, announced total restriction of movement on roads, waterways and other forms of transportation between midnight yesterday and 6:00pm today except for those on essential services such as INEC, electoral observers, medical personnel and ambulance services.

He also warned that Vigilante groups, private security guards and other quasi-security outfits were excluded from participating in the security of the elections.