AGENE GODWIN, Benin
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said that some governors in the South-South geo-political zone have perfected plans to rig the governorship election in Edo State and that about 8,000 militants from those states are now registered in Edo for the September 28 governorship election.
Speaking while receiving the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris Ibrahim at the Government House, Benin City, Friday, Governor Oshiomhole said, “our opponents, unable to find local thugs to help them perpetrate violence which they have done between 1999 and 2007 when I took over, resorted to liaising with my brothers in the sub-region, Delta and Rivers, in particular, to export criminals and militants into Edo State in order to make peaceful election impossible.
“In line with my tradition, I have always tried to speak out on any matter that I am worried about. I first raised this alarm on the eve of INEC Continuing Voters’ Registration exercise, an exercise that has been designed to register those who have become eighteen between the last registration and the current one.
“But these criminals who are determined to perpetrate violence and deny us the beauty of a peaceful election, unable to find local participants have chosen to import these militants with the support of two or so of my brothers. When I say brothers, I mean brother governors. It doesn’t matter if I disagree with them, they are my brothers.
“They are exporting militants to Edo State to register so that with the PVC in their hands, they will appear to have the lawful basis to be present at the designated polling units where they are expected to unleash violence on election day.”
He said, “When I raised this alarm, I should expect naturally criminals are not as courageous as they seem. They denied that there was any such plan, but happily our ever vigilant, the peace-loving electorate were able to apprehend some of these people from other states that came into Edo State for the purpose of this exercise.
“At least, thirteen of them were handed over to the police. The IG may wish to establish what has happened to those people who were handed over. So, we handed them over to the police in line with what we were expected to do as civilised people.
“Having done that, we are clear that there are a lot of people, up to eight thousand of them who are non-resident in Edo State, who are not indigenes of Edo State, who are indigenes and residents of Delta and Rivers states and some other states in the South-South, some from Bayelsa state who have registered for the sole purpose not to swell the votes, but to be present in various locations on election day.
“Now, as part of the processes they put in place to effect this, they had conspirators in INEC that made available to them data capturing machines in the residences of various opposition leaders. We shared these experiences with the police and the DSS.”
He said, “Our people are very anxious to have a free and fair election but the challenge is these people who are determined to import thuggery and violence, and they have an easier task and we have a more difficult task to protect the electoral process.”
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris Ibrahim said, “We are on a working visit. We have come here to interact with our officers and colleagues from other security agencies to see that the election we are having in a few days’ time is carried out in a seamless manner.
“Our presence here shows the synergy between the security agencies working in the state. This is an assurance that there is a lot of cooperation between us and other security agencies, and it is an assurance that we are definitely sure that in a few days’ time, we are going to have a successful governorship election in Edo State.”
He said, “Let me use the opportunity to brief you on some of our plans for the election. Within the police, we are deploying about twenty-five thousand reinforcement to the command, and these twenty-five thousand will compose of conviction police officers, mobile police officers, counter-terrorists, marine police, air wing.
“We are going to deploy air support to the people on the ground, with a medical team also, including the waterways. They are going to cover the waterways. And we are bringing some reinforcement of gunboats to support our patrols on the water. This obviously we are doing to ensure that this election is provided maximum security.
“This governorship election, I think is the first, apart from the Rivers election which has been postponed that we are going to carry out. So, we are very serious about this election. The men are going to report about three days to the election date and this will enable them to take care of most of the flash points in the state. We expect that on the election day we are not going to record any problem.”
The Inspector General continued, “I want to use this opportunity also to state that the laws are very clear in the electoral act, that every agency including the police, on that day we are going to restrict movement. And since it is going to be a joint operation, any personnel whether from the police or military that we see moving outside the area of responsibility to come and dabble into elections here, I think we have given our officers on the ground the mandate to arrest all of them so that we deal with them departmentally.
“Equally, all supporting agencies, any of them that attempt to violate electoral act in the conduct of the election, that is going contrary to the electoral act, we are going to take serious actions against them, whether they are working for state government, whether they are working for INEC or whatever, we are going to take appropriate action.
“What I am saying is that every person must try to conduct himself in line with the electoral act because we are going to be very decisive for anybody that violates the electoral act in the conduct of this election.”