The Police in Benue state have asked residents not to fret over increased deployment of security personnel in the state, but to come out and exercise their franchise in an orderly manner.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of elections in North-Central, DIG Godwin Nwobodo stated this Friday evening, while briefing journalists during his operational visit of Benue state Command, Makurdi, in preparation for Saturday March 9 polls.
The DIG stated this to allay the fears expressed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the huge deployment of personnel to Benue was to intimidate the voters and aid the opposition, All Progressives Congress, APC, rig the elections.
DIG Nwobodo explained that no security personnel is in Benue to aid rigging but to create an enabling and secured environment for peaceful, free and fair elections in the state.
“Benue people have nothing to fear, so long as you conduct yourselves in an orderly manner, there won’t be problems. The men are deployed as the necessary prerequisite security for a violent free and fair election.”
He said the police were everywhere in the state but more were deployed to Agatu, Logo, Gwer East, Gwer West, Katsina-Ala, Okpokwu, Ukum, Guma, Benue South and Benue East; saying “In my view, there is no way that deployments of more police personnel equals the ability to rig. They are here to provide an enabling environment for everyone to vote peacefully.”
He noted that the state command had deployed 7,480 police personnel plus personnel from other security agencies to man the 3,688 polling units in the 23 local government areas of Benue state.
Nwobodo said, “a total of five Commissioners, four Deputy Commissioners and two Assistant Commissioners of Police are already in the state to man strategic Senatorial Districts and Local Government Areas identified as flashpoints,” adding that Tactical Operations Personnel have also been deployed to checkmate the activities of hoodlums and criminal elements who may have planned to truncate the electoral process.
The DIG urged the Benue electorates not to panic but go out peacefully to exercise their franchise, noting that the “deployments are friendly, proactive and not aimed at any persons or group.”
He stated that restriction of vehicular movements must be enforced except for officials on essential or emergency duties stressing that “no form of violence, thuggery, voter intimidation, vote buying, brigandage, bearing arms/weapons, tampering with election materials, hijack of ballot boxes and other disruptive tendencies targeted at truncating the electoral process” would be allowed.
The DIG therefore advised all stakeholders to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations governing the conduct of the election so as to avoid infractions with the law.