By Peter Okolie
Owerri, Feb. 16, 2023
The Commissioner of Police in Imo, Muhammed Barde says the state vigilance group, Ebubeagu, will not be part of the security organisations to be deployed for election duties.
Barde gave the assurance during a one-day interactive meeting with stakeholders and signing of peace accord organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Owerri on Thursday.
“This issue of security personnel who wear black and black, we have reasons for it, but I assure you that on Election Day, you will only see Policemen in full uniform.
“I want to assure Imo people that the Ebubeagu will not be part of the election,” Barde said.
The CP said the police would continue to stem politically motivated violence, killings and kidnappings, warning that politicians who hire thugs and arm them to wreak havoc, would be dealt with.
He urged candidates and political parties who might feel aggrieved during and after the elections to seek redress through legal means rather than taking to violence.
“As a security agency, all the political parties belong to us. This forthcoming election, by the grace of the Almighty, will be free, fair and credible.
“I will like to urge all the politicians to go close to their Divisional Police Officers and Area Commanders who are closer and who could answer to your complaints accordingly,” Barde advised.
The police boss also advised residents to phone 08034773600 and 08098880197, in case of emergencies.
Also speaking, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Sylvia Agu reaffirmed INEC’s readiness to conduct the general election.
Agu assured all political parties and candidates in the state that the commission would not undermine the election process, including the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
She urged the various political parties to deploy credible and vigilant party agents to polling booths to monitor the elections.
“Do not be afraid of fake ballot papers because INEC has customized ballot papers for this election,” Agu added.
The REC who noted that the violent attacks on supporters of political parties necessitated the signing of the peace accord, called on security agencies to arrest, investigate and prosecute violators of the accord.
Concerns by the stakeholders over INEC’s readiness to conduct the election were equally dispelled by the REC.
Earlier, the state chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Mr John Iwuala, raised concerns over the use of the Ebubeagu vigilance group for the election.
Also, the state Organising Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Iyke Umeh expressed concern over insecurity in the state ahead of the general election.
According to him, many of his party faithful had died from attacks allegedly perpetrated by opposition parties.