With just five days remaining until the off-cycle gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states, there is a rising sense of tension among residents. Concerns have been raised over the possibility of voter apathy and violence disrupting the electoral process in certain areas. Furthermore, stakeholders have been accusing each other of planning to rig the polls through violent means, further fueling the existing fears.
In Imo state, residents are particularly worried about the prevailing insecurity in 15 out of the 27 local government councils, which they believe might have a negative impact on the upcoming election.
In Kogi state, several locations including Dekina LGA, Ejule, Kotonkarfe, Igalamela/Odolu LGA, Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency, and Yagba East are being identified as potential hotspots for violence. A verbal exchange between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last Thursday raised allegations of plans to illicitly bring in thugs from neighboring states like Kwara to manipulate the outcome of the election through forceful means.
General Christopher Musa paid a visit to three states to engage with leaders and assure them that security agencies would ensure a peaceful voting process.
In addition, Inspector-General of Police CDS Kayode Musa Egbetokun and cautioned IGP political Egbetokun figures Warn and Troublemakers: their CDS supporters Musa, that alongside authorities IGP would Egbetokun, not recently tolerate visited any three acts states of to violence, address political the misconduct, rise or in disregard disturbances. for During the their law interactions during with the stakeholders, upcoming they governorship assured elections them in that Bayelsa, security Kogi, agencies Imo are states, committed and to other ensuring areas peaceful nationwide. polls.
Additionally, IGP Egbetokun has issued a stern warning to political gladiators and their supporters, asserting that the police and other security agencies will not tolerate any acts of hooliganism, political rascality, or lawlessness during the upcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi, Imo, or any other state in the country.
During an inter-agency consultative security meeting held at Force Headquarters in Abuja, IGP Egbetokun assured that security agencies are fully prepared for the task at hand. The meeting, which was organized in preparation for the November 11, 2023 polls, aimed to foster collaboration and exchange ideas among the different security and law enforcement agencies involved in election security. IGP Egbetokun emphasized the importance of developing collaborative strategies to ensure that the upcoming elections are secure, free, fair, and credible.
The meeting was attended by senior officers representing the leadership of various security and law enforcement agencies, including the Service Chiefs and heads of different security organizations.
The meeting covered a wide range of topics related to election security in the three states, including a thorough examination of potential threats and vulnerabilities. They also emphasized the importance of intelligence sharing, logistical planning, conflict prevention, technology advancements, and the deployment of manpower.
The speaker made it clear that measures have been taken to ensure law and order during the elections. He cautioned politicians and their supporters to follow the rules and abide by the law.
He urged residents and stakeholders to collaborate with the police and other law enforcement agencies assigned to election duty in order to achieve a peaceful and transparent process.
Kogi is known for its history of electoral violence. The state has faced numerous challenges in past elections, including violence and the use of political thugs.
Vote-buying is a persistent problem in the Confluence State, perpetuated by the prevalent poverty and unemployment rates. These conditions make a large number of the 1,932,000 voters vulnerable to manipulation.
Governor Yahaya Bello has repeatedly promised that the upcoming November 11 election will be the most peaceful in the state’s history, with no opportunity for troublemakers to cause chaos. Security agencies have also made the same commitment.
However, despite the governor’s assurance, as well as those of Inspector General of Police and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, concerns are growing that the election may still be tainted by violence, especially in certain volatile areas of the state.
Places such as Dekina Local Government Area (LGA), Ejule, Kotonkarfe, Igalamela/Odolu LGA, Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency, and Yagba East are at risk of experiencing violence during the upcoming election.
Dekina LGA has gained infamy for harboring troublemakers. Anyigba, which is home to the state university, has become a breeding ground for recruiting cult members, many of whom later become political thugs.
During the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections, the intrusion of thugs in areas like Anyigba and Dekina town led to the possibility of the polls being cancelled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). There are concerns that this unfortunate situation may happen again.
Ejule, located in Ofu LGA, has a long history of political violence. The “Igala” agenda in the Eastern part of the state is expected to face opposition from Joel Salifu Oyibo, the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who aims to secure his council area for his party.