24th March, 2011
The police said in Lokoja on Wednesday that any political thug arrested during the April general elections would be charged with armed robbery.
The Kogi Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abakasanga, said at a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting that sponsors of political violence would also be given the same treatment.
The police chief, who chairs the inter-agency security committee on April elections, said security agents were already monitoring the activities of suspected political thugs and their sponsors in different parts of the state.
Abakasanga, who spoke through his deputy, Mr. Valentine Ntomchukwu, said that security agents would not resort to arbitrary arrest before the elections unless where necessary.
He told the stakeholders, including leaders of political parties and civil society groups, that five security agents would be deployed to man each of the 2,458 poling units in the state.
The commissioner said the security agents would be drawn from the police, SSS, civil defence corps, NDLEA, prisons, customs, immigration and the FRSC.
He said the inter-agency security committee was being guided in its decision by the information and data supplied by INEC.
According to him, armed soldiers and mobile policemen will only be deployed to strategic locations to enforce restriction of movement and for â€˜stop and searchâ€™ operation on election days.
Abakasanga said all security agents who would be on duty on election days had been directed to put on name tags.
He, therefore, advised the voters not to take instructions from any security agent without a name tag.
The commissioner warned political office holders not to go to polling stations with their security aides on election days, saying any of them who violated the rule would end up in detention.
He also advised politicians against embarking â€œon last minute smart actionsâ€, saying that security agents would deal ruthlessly with any of them found wanting.
All the security agencies in the state, he said, had come together to establish a joint operation room for effective monitoring of the security situation in different parts of the state.
Abakasanga said the action was to allow for prompt response to any ugly development.
He appealed to residents and leaders of political parties in the state to furnish the committee with timely and useful information.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi, Alhaji Abubakar Ahmadu, had earlier said that the list of all 276 candidates contesting for various positions in the state had been pasted in all the constituencies.
He also said that INEC had put in place all logistics to ensure free, fair, just and credible elections in April.
Ahmadu further called on security agents to allow for the proper exercise of the voterâ€™s franchise as provided in the constitution.
One of the stakeholders, Mrs. Grace Elijah, the state Chairman of Action Alliance, lauded the electoral commission for the steps taken so far to ensure free and fair elections.