The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase, has ordered restriction on vehicular movements in Local Government Areas of Abia, Imo and Taraba states where elections will be held this weekend.
According to the IG, in a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, the move is informed by the need to ensure adequate security.
Also to ensure better supervision of the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has dispatched three National Commissioners to each of the affected states.
The police directive on restriction of vehicular movements affects traffic in and out of the areas where the rerun elections are to take place, except for Ambulances, Fire Service Trucks and others on essential duties. Consequently, travellers and citizens who intend to ply roads within those hours have been advised to plan alternative routes.
Also in the statement, IG Arase also warned government officials and political office holders not to go to polling Units with uniformed orderlies or aides, while persons who have no business with voting must not be found within 300 metres of a polling unit.
The Police High Command has also put adequate security measures in place through the deployments of additional senior officers to supervise security arrangements in the states. Meanwhile, citizens have been “enjoined to remain vigilant and report all suspicious movements or dealings to appropriate Police Authority,” Ojukwu added.
In a statement made available to Global Patriot Newspapers, and signed by Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu, Secretary to the Commission, INEC informed that the three National Commissioners will be assisted in each of the states by three Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs). These are besides the substantive RECs of the affected states.
Supplementary elections have been scheduled to hold in 51 Registration Areas (RAs) in 9 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Abia State; 79 RAs in 23 LGAs in Imo; and 32 RAs in 10 LGAs in Taraba.
“INEC has also deployed three Directing staff from the Headquarters to each of the affected states to coordinate the operations, while some other staff from the Headquarters are being deployed to the states as Monitors. In addition, Electoral Officers (EOs) from neighbouring states will be on ground to assist the EOs of the affected LGAs.
“The Commission is determined to ensure that the supplementary elections are free, fair credible and peaceful; and it urges voters in the affected areas to conduct themselves peacefully and in accordance with set procedures of the elections, so that the process is crisis-free and concludes in good time. We also call on the Police to ensure compliance by political actors with the restriction on movement in places where the elections are holding.
Ogakwu further said that INEC is also moving to reassure the public that it is investigating allegations of misconduct by some officials during the recent general elections, ‘and will ensure that anyone proven to have violated the rules is brought to book.’
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State has called on the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to make a pronouncement on the controversy surrounding the April 11 election in three local government areas (LGAs) of the state.
Chieftains of the party; Messrs Kenneth Ahia and Uchenna Okogbuo, made the call in Umuahia, Friday, while briefing newsmen on the re-run elections in nine council areas in the state.
Ahia, who is the legal adviser to the party’s campaign organisation, said that the party had written several letters to INEC in the wake of the governorship election, seeking the cancellation of the results from Obingwa, Osisioma and Isialangwa North LGAs.
He regretted that ‘’less than 12 hours to the re-run, the party has not received any response from INEC on the letters we wrote to it.’’
He therefore urged INEC to urgently respond to the party’s letters in order to clear the confusion bordering on the cancellation of the election in those areas.
The state Returning Officer, Prof. Ozumba, had announced the cancellation of the results based on reports of violence and irregularities but subsequently reversed the cancellation after Gov. Theodore Orji, leading some PDP chieftains, visited the collation centre.
Speaking in the same vein, Okogbuo, who is APGA’s National Vice Chairman, South East, said it was ’unfortunate that INEC has not spoken on critical issues regarding the re-run.’’
He said that the failure by the commission to speak on the issues raised in all the letters written by the party had created confusion in the state over the re-run, adding that the situation was compounded by the conflicting information and materials emanating from the Umuahia office of the commission concerning the re-run.
Okogbuo also expressed concern over the reported arrest of some people in Umuahia, who were allegedly caught while trying to divert electoral materials meant for Aba North LGA, stressing that the materials, which were being conveyed to Aba, included already signed result sheets meant for the re-run.
‘’How can we expect a credible election when the electoral materials had already been compromised,’’ he said.
He said that the party was prepared for the re-run but insisted that INEC should give clear directive ordering on the exercise before the poll.
When contacted, the state’s REC, Prof. Oko, said that she has received the report of an arrest and had already advised the complainant to take the report to the police after investigations by INEC showed that there was no such incident.
‘’This morning, somebody called me and reported that some people were arrested, while attempting to divert some electoral materials for Aba North. ’I quickly called the Electoral Officer, who said that nothing like that happened, so I asked the person that made the report to go to the Divisional Police Officer and present the report, since then I have not heard any other report,’’ she said.
Efforts made to get the reaction of the Abia state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Ezekiel Onyeke, on the matter were unsuccessful.
The council also directed that the process of verification and payment of all the outstanding cases should continue until the final resolution of the exercise.
The implementation committee was constituted in March 2013 with the mandate to implement the agreement reached by the government with the power sector labour unions in December 2012.
The objective was to facilitate the payment of the entitlements of all the workers of the PHCN and ensure that there were no encumbrances as regards the handover of the successor companies to the respective investors.