from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA’S uniformed forces have beefed up security ahead of the governorship and State House of Assembly elections this weekend.
Polls are set for Saturday, three weeks after a presidential election whose outcome the opposition candidates rejected, adding to the suspense in the world’s largest Black nation.
More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to vote.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, has advised commanders to strengthen efforts at providing security support for the elections and be ready to act in case of an emergency situation emerging.
The uniformed security are expected to prioritise the protection of key national infrastructure.
The army has updated its list of hotlines for monitoring and reporting of emergencies and acts capable of disrupting the coming elections.
Hotlines were introduced for the Presidential election held on February 25 as part of measures to support the police in ensuring a conducive environment for the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections.
“Members of the general public are pleased to call the phone numbers (provided) in their various states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to report any security breach during the elections,” said Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations.
Meanwhile, Yahaya reminded troops to remain professional and neutral during the elections.
The Nigeria Police imposed a vehicular curfew from 12 am to 6 pm on election day in all states where elections are to be held.
Some 28 states are to hold governorship elections. This will be alongside State House of Assembly elections in all 36 states.
Only vehicles on essential services, such as those of officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (INED) officials, electoral observers, accredited media, ambulances and firefighters are exempt from the restrictions.
Security aides and escorts are banned from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election.
State-established and owned security outfits/organizations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits are also barred from participating in election security management.
Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, urged all citizens to be law abiding during and after the elections.
“He (Baba) assures that all necessary security arrangements have been emplaced to ensure they exercise their franchise unhindered,” Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Force Public Relations Officer, said.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) assured it had put in place a robust security arrangement for elections.
NSCDC has deployed 102 000 officers to ensure full security coverage of the poll.
“The tightened security approach is to ensure that the INEC staff, election materials and citizens are secured during the elections,” Olusola Odumosu, NSCDC Director of Public Relations, stated.
As were the February elections, the weekend polls are projected to be a four-horse race featuring the ruling All Progressives Congress, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party.
Opposition contestants have rejected the announcement, by INEC, of the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu as winner of the presidential election to succeed Muhammadu Buhari.
– CAJ News