As more police personnel deployed to Ekiti State for election duties arrived the state on Thursday, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Johnson Kokumo, who is in charge of the state governorship poll, called on the people of the state to be law-abiding and respect all the processes of the elections.
These, Kokumo said, would make it possible for the state to be properly secured to avoid any breakdown of law and order as well as ensure peaceful conduct of Saturday’s election.
The DIG, who spoke at a briefing in Ado Ekiti, said, “Over 17,000 police operatives deployed for the Ekiti poll are meant to secure the state and not for any form of intimidation of citizens, but to secure lives and the rule of law.”
According to him, soldiers would be at the borders of the communities to prevent any form of intruders, adding that “all policemen attached to VIPs should be withdrawn and made to return to base for the purpose of the election.”
This was as Ekiti State Police Command released two dedicated phone numbers for the purpose of the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election.
According to a press statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, Sunday Abutu, “members of the public are advised to make use of the dedicated lines in case of emergency report or complaints.
Abutu gave the dedicated lines as 09021198809, 07059119144.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has moved sensitive materials to the 16 local government areas of the state ahead of the Saturday’s election.
The deployment, which was done at the state INEC headquarters, was observed by security operatives, accredited media, observers and other stakeholders.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Adeniran Tella, who distributed the materials, said electoral officers would take the items to their councils where it would be sent to the polling units on Saturday morning.
Tella expressed hope that there would be no late arrival of materials to polling units on Saturday, adding that the ballot papers were colour-coded for each LG in order to prevent electoral fraud, adding that the result sheets were also customised according to the polling units.
Also speaking, INEC State Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Femi Akinbiyi, said vehicles conveying the materials to the respective local government areas were being tracked from the INEC office.
The All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State has debunked the news making the rounds that a court in Abuja had nullified the party’s governorship primary.
APC State Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, urged Nigerians, particularly Ekiti people and party members, “to disregard the rumour and discountenance it as the forlorn wish of some desperate politicians in the state, which cannot come to pass.”
Dipe, in a statement titled, ‘Ekiti Guber: Biodun Oyebanji remains APC candidate, no court nullified Ekiti APC primary,’ said the party’s candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, remained the leading candidate in Saturday’s election.
ZLP declares support
Meanwhile , the Zenith Labour Party in the state on Thursday declared support for the APC governorship candidate, Oyebanji.
ZLP governorship candidate, Akin Adeolu, said he decided with his people to support Oyebanji “due to his antecedents and because the party observed that he means well for the state”.
The candidate of Social Democratic Party for the 2023 presidential election, Dr Adewole Adebayo, has called on the people of Ekiti State to vote the governorship candidate of the party, Mr Segun Oni, on Saturday.
He described the governorship candidate as a person who would bring a revolution that will change the economic and social facets of the state if elected on Saturday.
He said, Oni had proved his mettle as a truthful, honest and competent governor during his reign, adding that the APC and the PDP have debased Ekiti through massive looting and should be rejected on Saturday.
The President of Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, has set up the Ekiti State Governorship Election Tribunal to hear and determine petitions that may arise in the governorship election slated for Saturday.
The Secretary of the tribunal, Umar Abubakar, said Justice Dongban-Mensem took the action in pursuant to section 285(ii) and (iii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and section 130 of the Electoral act, 2022.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has urged officials to resist any unethical behaviour during the Saturday election.
Yakubu, who said the commission had taken several steps to guarantee a free and fair election, also urged the officials to ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other.
This was contained in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, titled, ‘Message from the INEC Chairman: Ekiti Governorship Election.’
The statement read, “From June 2021 when we released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti Governorship Election, we have collectively implemented several activities and taken every step to guarantee a free, fair, credible, and inclusive process this Saturday June 18, 2022.”
This election is coming seven months after the successful conduct of the Anambra State Governorship Election in November 2021, but it will be historic because it will be the first governorship election to be conducted based on the provisions of the new Electoral Act 2022.
“At the Stakeholders’ meeting held last Tuesday, I assured the political parties, their candidates, and the good people of Ekiti State that the choice of who becomes the next governor of the State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I said so confidently because I strongly believe in the commitment, efficiency, and determination of all of you, our dedicated staff, to ensure a level playing field on Election Day, which is just 48 hours away.
“Let us remember that the people of Ekiti State and indeed all Nigerians will be watching us closely and waiting to see if we will fulfill our promise. They will observe the opening time of each of the 2,445 polling units in the State, the conduct of our staff, how you attend to voters and your attitude towards Persons with Disability. I appeal to you to uphold our Code of Conduct, display your usual sense of responsibility and professionalism, remain above board and firmly resist any unethical behaviour.
“You must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must also, always, stick strictly to the Oath of Neutrality to which we have all subscribed and continually live up to the trust that Nigerians repose in us.”