Preparations for tomorrow’s presidential and National Assembly elections heightened across the states and the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday with more sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials sent to Local Government Areas by state offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Security agencies also readied for the polls by deploying their men and officers to the streets and areas considered as flashpoints.
In Abuja where the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, announced the redeployment of six Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and six Commissioners of Police, journalists and election observers besieged INEC headquarters to collect their accreditation materials.
Some of the journalists whose accreditation kits were not ready as of Thursday evening, expressed fears that the development could affect their activities tomorrow.
The INEC management is expected to address a joint press conference with the authorities of the National Youths Service Corps on Friday (today).
Security was beefed up at the commission’s headquarters with military personnel, complementing the regular and the riot policemen on guard on the premises.
Also, security personnel, including soldiers, were seen on patrol and at checkpoints along the Nyanya- Jikwoyi Road, the Airport Road and Galadimawa.
Policemen maintained their regular patrol of the Kubwa-Zuba Expressway and strategic parts of the territory.
There was no part of the city with no policemen or soldiers, who were heavily armed.
Heavy traffic was noticeable in areas where soldiers set up checkpoints and searched vehicles with many passengers.
The plight of commuters was worsened by the fuel scarcity, which had persisted in the FCT for two weeks.
Many vehicles queued at filling stations while commuters, particularly those plying the Nyanya area struggled to board taxis.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, described the deployment of policemen and soldiers as routine and part of the build-up to the elections.
He called on Nigerians to be law-abiding during the elections, adding that “voters should exercise their civic right and go home and rest.”
Ojukwu pledged that the police would be professional and impartial in the discharge of their duty to ensure that the elections were credible, free and fair.
He said, “The deployment is routine; it is part of the build-up to the elections; we are working to ensure that the elections are hitch-free, fair and credible. We therefore implore Nigerians to support the police to achieve their mandate. Voters should vote and after voting, they should go home and rest.”
Ojukwu also said in a statement on Thursday that Abba redeployed six DIGs and five AIGs to coordinate the polls in the six zones of the country.
The affected DIGs are Dan’Azumi Doma South-East; Mamman Tsafe, South-South; Hashimu Argungu, South-West; Christopher Katso, North-West; Hilary Opara, North-East and Adeola Adeniji, North-Central.
The AIGs are Kalafite Adeyemi, who will serve as assistant coordinator, South-West; Bala Nasarawa, North-Central; Adisa Bolanta, North-West; Usman Gwary, Federal Operations , Abuja; and Mark Idakwo, AIG Zone 9 Umuahia.
The IG also ordered the redeployment of six CP s to various commands for the period of the elections.
Those affected are Hosea Karma, Rivers State Command; Adamu Mohammed, Anambra; Dan Bature, Enugu; Usman Abdullahi, Katsina; Jimoh Ozi-Obeh, Benue and Hyacinth Dagala – CP Department of Operations,FHQ in Abuja.
Abba directed all officers to exhibit the highest level of personal and professional conduct in the discharge of their duties.
The Lagos State Police Command said on Thursday that 36,204 security agents would be involved in the elections.
The CP, Kayode Aderanti, told journalists at a news conference in Lagos that the number comprised men of the NPF, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Department of State Services , the Nigeria Immigration Service and others.
Aderanti added that 500 patrol vehicles, 100 buses, 100 motorcycles, seven trucks, three Black Maria trucks, one luxury bus, three Armoured Personnel Carriers, one in each senatorial zone would also be deployed in the state.
According to him, five gunboats will man the waters while two helicopters will be used for aerial surveillance and patrol.
The Lagos CP said movement would be restricted from 6am to 6pm. But the IG had on Monday said that there would be restriction of movement from 5am to 5pm.
Aderanti stated, “Parents are warned to speak to their kids and wards not to be used to perpetrate violence. We’re ready to arrest such persons. 6am to 6pm is the restriction time for movement. There’ll be total lock down. Try and complete your movement before 6am. We however reassure those who are essential workers, that their security would be guaranteed.”
The state REC, Akin Orebiyi, also told journalists that speed and commercial boats as well as canoes were ready to take voting materials to the riverine parts of the state.
The Commander, 9 Brigade, Brig.Gen. A.M. Sabo, while reacting to a question on whether the army was not flouting a court order by deploying its men in states, said since the army was specifically called for a national assignment, it had no choice but to comply.