The police have said they will deploy adequate personnel, including plain clothes officers, for the governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states slated for November 11.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, disclosed in an interview with one of our correspondents that some anti-riot equipment such as teargas canisters, water cannons, Armoured Personnel Carriers and drones would be used by policemen during the elections.

Adejobi disclosed that the leadership of the police had held several meetings with the Independent National Electoral Commission at the level of a committee co-chaired by the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu.

Saturday PUNCH reported that with about seven weeks to the off-season elections, there is palpable political tension in the three states as thugs have continued to inflict terror on parties and supporters, especially those in the opposition in the states.

The report also noted that governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa have in recent years been marred by several unsettling events. This has led to avoidable loss of lives and property.

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State is seeking re-election, likewise his counterpart in Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, while Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is rounding off his second term and is supporting the All Progressives Congress candidate, Usman Ododo, whom he anointed among the aspirants to win the party’s primary.

Adejobi however said, “For our preparation towards the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo states, we have done our operational order for each of these states and we are very ready for deployment.

“We have shared our election duty documents – the Standard Operating Procedures – with our personnel. Since it’s an off-season election, we are going to have adequate personnel deployed.

“The Inspector-General of Police has directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of operations to circulate the operation order and Standard Operations Procedure – just like a bucket note that everyone deployed for the assignment would be armed with.

““We are going to deploy our equipment as well to make sure that each of the three states is fortified for free, fair and credible elections. We have enough equipment, arms and ammunition, teargas canisters, water cannons, armoured personnel carriers, drones, and our plain clothes officers would also be on the fields to gather intelligence for us.”

No rigging – APC

Meanwhile, the governing All Progressives Congress has disclosed that contrary to speculations by the opposition, it has no plan to rig the November 11 elections.

The rebuttal came barely one week after the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, in the company of some governors, ministers and heavyweights in the party inaugurated the campaign council for Uzodinma’s re-election in Imo State amid funfair.

A similar swearing-in ceremony took place two weeks ago when the APC national chair stormed Kogi State with another political delegation for a 191-member campaign train for Bello’s anointed candidate, Ododo.

Reacting to the development, the Chief Spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, also expressed concern that it would be unfortunate if the ruling APC was planning to reduce the country to a one-party state.

He added, “Already, there is a narrative that if you can generate money, no matter how much or where you got it from, you can use it to manipulate. That is the new narrative now. All those rules and regulations that we used to have don’t matter anymore to anybody. They are killing democracy all in the name of redefining it.”

Reacting, APC’s Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, kicked against the notion by challenging critics of the ruling party to provide evidence to substantiate the claim that the party was planning to rig.

He stated, “They are just crying wolf where none exists. Instead of doing their homework and marketing their franchise to the electorate, they are busy creating confusion in their own imaginations and sending it to the public thinking such sympathy can work in their favour. No, it doesn’t work that way. Now, they want to use this so that when they lose, they can claim the election was rigged.”