17th June, 2014
Nigerians were Tuesday morning divided over the justification for the massive deployment of security officials and equipment to Ekiti State, western Nigeria for the governorship election holding in the state on Saturday.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, had Monday announced that he was deploying the highest number of policemen and equipment to the state to forestall violence during the election in addition to other security forces that have been sent there.
“Knowing what Ekiti used to be during elections, we have gone a step further to do all the things we are supposed to do in terms of materials and human resources.
“Do not ask the number of personnel I am going to use. In security business, we want to keep that to our chest so that we can do our best. I tell you it is one of the highest number we can ever expect to be deployed to any state that we have seen because we must look at history,” Abubakar said.
But reacting this morning, popular Lagos lawyer and activist, Festus Keyamo, expressed fears over the massive deployment of security officials to the state, stressing that it might be a ploy by the Federal Government to rig the election.
“The deployment may be a two-edged sword,” he told P.M.NEWS this morning. “It may be a plan to rig judging by the desperate nature of the Federal Government to get Ekiti.
“The other angle is that it is necessary for the security of the process. The fact that we need security in the state is not in doubt especially since someone was killed recently.
“But I have my fears, I really have my fears.” Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, said there is no reason for such deployment of security personnel if there is no grand plan by the Federal Government to rig the election.
The Yoruba socio-cultural group, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, said the election is a civil matter and that the state was not at war to warrant such number of military and security presence. The group said Ekiti, like every other western state, had been peaceful, but “whenever they want to scuttle anything in Yorubaland, they connive with some people.
“If they (INEC and the PDP) come out with any fake result, they would be igniting a kind of bomb because Dr. Kayode Fayemi has been doing well.”
It urged that the Independent National Electoral Commission be allowed to do its job. The group appealed to the security personnel not to allow themselves to be used to harass voters and the people of the state.
The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said his party was worried over the deployment.
“We don’t need a massive number of soldiers and policemen where a level playing ground is needed. Anywhere there is a massive deployment of soldiers and police, they would likely do the biddings of the Federal Government.
“We reassure everybody that the Ekiti people will come out to vote and stand by their votes,” he told P.M. NEWS.
He said the only favour the APC was asking for is that the police and other security personnel drafted to the state should be careful not to be used and seen as an arm of the PDP.
“They swore to protect lives and properties, paid with public money and should therefore not be made to look like an arm of the PDP,” Lai Mohammed said.
Abiodun Aremu of the Joint Action Front, JAF, though this is not the first time there will be a massive deployment of security personnel to a state during elections, the security operatives should not allow themselves to be used.
“What is the role of the security in the state? Is it to intimidate a political party? These are the questions we should be asking, but I don’t think there should be any excuse to rig elections since the securitymen are there,” he said.
President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shettima Yerima, said he was satisfied with the deployment of security personnel to Ekiti. He said the coming general elections should be scattered so that there will be effective security during the period. He also cautioned the securitymen against intimidating voters during the Ekiti governorship election.
A political analyst, Afolabi Gbajumo, said deploying securitymen to states during elections is a case of “undemocratic democrats teaching Nigerians about democracy and governance.”
He described such massive use of power as not necessary for the country’s democracy.