No fewer than 11,000 policemen have been deployed to Kogi State in addition to men and officers of other security agencies to ensure a smooth election process
There is also a restriction on movements as directed by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase.
As part of measures aimed at ensuring a hitch-free and credible election, Arase ordered a partial restriction of vehicular movement within Kogi’s boundaries from 6am to 6 pm today.
The police said in a statement that the decision was taken because of the state’s location as Kogi shares boundaries with 10 other states.
“All states contiguous to Kogi State will be heavily policed, while motorists and other travellers plying the affected routes will be subjected to rigorous search by security agents on stop-and-search duty,” police spokesperson Olabisi Kolawole said in the statement.
Arase also ordered the deployment of key police officers, including Deputy Inspector-General of Police Sotonye Wakama, who is in charge of the Department of Operations in Abuja. He is supervising security arrangements in Kogi.
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The police added: “For the sake of the election, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu has been redeployed to Force Headquarters, Abuja pending the conclusion of the election.
“In addition, 4,969 personnel of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) drawn from different squadrons across the country have been deployed to strategic places to complement the 11,000 conventional police manpower, and other security agents already deployed for the election.
“The Nigeria Police Force notes that the partial restriction of movement order is informed by the exigencies of overriding security considerations.
“The Force is not unmindful of the citizens’ right to freedom of movement. This measure is aimed at forestalling tactics by faceless groups to undermine the elector*l process.”
The police urged travellers to take advantage of alternate routes to their destinations where necessary.
By Thursday, the Kogi State Police Command had begun deploying the officers and men.
At least five police officers will man each of the poling units, the police said. It also read the riot act to politicians and thugs who may want to perpetrate violence.
Spokesman of the state command, Ovyie William, said the police was prepared for the election which analysts describe as an epic battle between the incumbent governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party and his major challenger, Prince Abubakar Audu of the All Progressives Congress.
Detachments of anti-riot policemen were seen being conveyed in trucks to different local government areas.
Williams said: “The police is prepared to ensure free, fair and credible election. We’ll repeat what we did during the 2015 general elections where the police were commended.
“Over 11,000 officers have been deployed in Kogi State to ensure there is no disorder before, during and after the election.
“We are deploying police officers in various divisions and area commands for re-deployment to Kogi East, Kogi West and Kogi Central to ensure that there is adequate security of lives and property and that nobody tampers with elector*l materials.”
William, an a$$istant Superintendent of Police, said the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security had also been meeting to strategise on security.
The committee is made up of security and para-military agencies, such as the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, Nigerian Prisons Services, Immigration, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others.
William said: “Since October, we have met about six times in preparation for this election. We met to strategise on how to ensure that there is free, fair and peaceful election. The Nigerian Army deployed their men across the borders because Kogi State is bounded by 10 different states.
“Being a transit state, people pa$$ing through Kogi will be thoroughly checked so that no hoodlum will sneak into the state to cause any problem.
“We’re ready for anybody, especially politicians and their thugs who may want to foment trouble in this election.
“The presence of the police in all the areas is to tell you that we are ready, and we are not going to tolerate any kind of thuggery in this election. Anybody found culpable will be arrested and prosecuted.
“We intend to deploy no fewer than five police officers in each of the poling units. If you don’t have your PVC, you don’t have any business in a polling unit. After voting, you can stay behind to wait for the announcement, but you must not cause trouble.”