…Says it will replicate what happened during Edo election in Ondo State
By Henry Umoru
AS the people of Ondo State vote in their preferred candidates in today’s gubernatorial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC disclosed that it has uncovered twenty- seven ( 27) Flashpoints where there might be security breaches.
According to INEC, it received intelligence reports from the security agencies of readiness by miscreants to torment trouble in these identified locations, just as it said however that as a Commission, it has taken very serious measures to forestall any breakdown of law and order during and after today’s election.
Meanwhile, INEC has reiterated its commitment to replicate a free, fair and credible elections as was witnessed in the September 19 Edo State Governorship election.
Speaking Thursday in Abuja, a top INEC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that going by the performance of the various security agencies during the September 19, governorship election in Edo State, today’s election would likely be held under a peaceful atmosphere.
According to the source, the Commission disclosed that it would be deploying technology in the uploading of results from polling units in Ondo State like it did with the Edo governorship elections, stressing that the deployment of electronic means of uploading the results of polls went a long way to restore the integrity of the process and to avert the falsification of the results of the polls, adding that election results would be uploaded via the Z-Pad technology.
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The source however acknowledged the robust deployment of security personnel by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Department of State Services (DSS), but urged the security agencies to raise their game by ensuring that the evils of ballot snatching, voter intimidation and vote buying did not rear their ugly heads in Ondo State.
He said, “Based on what we witnessed in Edo State where electoral violence was brought to its barest minimum, we’re not expecting anything less. In Edo we were pleasantly surprised that we did not see the kind of violence that was predicted but instead we saw security personnel who conducted themselves in a very professionally manner.
“Even the soldiers that were deployed in Edo were highly professional and efficient. When we heard that some hoodlums were trying to disrupt the polls around some wards in Orhionmwon Local Government Area, we quickly called them. We don’t know where they came from but their response was rapid and they vanished as soon as they restored normalcy.
“However, we are not leaving anything to chance. We’re keeping our fingers crossed believing that these security agencies would do even better than what they did in Edo State.”
The Source further said that “just smarting from the success recorded in Edo State last month we are optimistic that we are going to re-enact the feat we achieved last month, everybody is excited with the outcome of the Edo state governorship elections and we are looking forward to another good outing in Ondo State on Saturday. I am really confident that we will pull through in Ondo.”
Speaking further, the source who disclosed that all sensitive materials for the election had been moved to Ondo, said, “the movements of the materials commenced on Thursday, October 8, much earlier than it happened in Edo during the September 19 governorship elections, which is an improvement in the preparations for the elections by INEC despite the difficult terrains in Ondo state.”
On rumours that the INEC Returning Officer for the election is from Ondo state, the source said that is to the contrary, even as he said that the sensitive materials had been moved to Ilaje, Ikare, Okitipupa the riverrine areas of the state early enough to ensure that the election starts as scheduled.
According to the source, today’s elections would take place in all the 309 Polling Units in the state, adding that out of this, 279 Polling Units are located in the Riverine areas of the state which he said is a difficult terrain but vowed that the Commission would surmount the challenges.
On security, the source said the conduct of security agents at the Edo election was “a pleasant surprise”, according to him “the police were on time as movements of materials continued. The police behaved professionally”. It was learnt that the army and navy are also cooperating to ensure that Ondo election is peaceful, free, fair, credible and transparent.
On the level of preparedness for today’s election, he disclosed that INEC had as at Thursday completed the distribution of non-sensitive materials to the eighteen (18) Local Government Areas of Ondo State. According to him, INEC commenced the exercise early to avoid logistic hitches on the election day, especially in the two riverine LGAs of Ese Odo and Illaje which collectively hosts a total of 279 polling units, adding that with the current arrangement, INEC projects that polls will open very early today across the 203 wards and 3, 009 polling units in the state.
In reviewing the Edo election, the source noted that technology that was deployed for the poll was “wonderful”, adding that Edo was successful because of security. We have always planned to succeed.
“Ondo is not Edo as it has more polling units as it has 3009 polling units. We have very difficult polling as 279 polling units are in the riverine areas we had meetings with Civil Society Organization [CSOs] and the security agencies so we started with deployment of materials to the riverine areas and we did very well. ILaje was the first local government area to get the materials in the past we will be at the CBN waiting to deploy the materials and the security won’t be there but it amazing that when we arrived the CBN the police were already waiting for us and on time.
“It is not only the police the army was superb in Edo as they blocked all entry points into the state and they are doing the same thing for Ondo, and with the specific junior officers as commanders they were so diligent any where there was crisis they just come in and restore order and disappear they were simply amazing.
“So for us the security agencies are no longer the issue but the politicians, who are already flying the kite. We are ready for Ondo and are looking forward for another good outing though in the past it was a politically volatile state.
“With Edo we now have a greater reason not to lower the mark. A lot is being done differently as we have identified 16 areas to be improved on some of them are administrative while some were logistics, there was slow response time in Edo, voter apathy was largely due to the fact that the people had the belief that their votes do not count but with what we are doing now the confidence of the voters would be restored.
ILaje due to the difficult terrain is the first to receive logistics on Thursday we are happy with the security agencies for issuing warnings to their personnel we hope that the election was peaceful. In INEC we have a history where we have violent elections some of the areas in Edo like Orhionmwon has been a problematic elections.
In reviewing the Edo election, the source said that technology that was deployed for the poll was “wonderful”, adding Edo was successful because of security. We have always planned to succeed.”