Nigeria: Electoral Violence Looms - Police

Published: Tue 10 Apr 2007 11:29 AM
Nigeria:Electoral Violence Looms - Police
By Akanimo Sampson
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
THE Nigeria Police has warned of a looming electoral violence in the country, claiming that the current do-or-die tendency by some of the unnamed political parties towards this month’s polls, is over-heating the entire electoral process.
The out-going Nigerian leader, President Olusegun Obasanjo, was however, quoted recently as saying that the election is a do-or-die affair for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Although the police did not mention the out-going president nor the PDP, they however, said, the desperation for public office, the mutual distrust among politicians, availability of thousands of idle and hungry hands to be used as political thugs and the allegations and counter-allegations of impending rigging, are all precursors of electoral violence.”
Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Felix Ogbaudu, who made this known at a public function in Port Harcourt, also added, “in our present circumstance, the potentials for political violence are indeed high”.
The security agencies, according to the police boss, are already appraising the signals on ground and putting pre-emptive measures in place to check-mate the possibilities of violence and ensure peaceful elections.
As part of efforts to ensure peaceful elections in Rivers State, one of the key oil-producing states in Nigeria, the police has since hosted politicians in a stakeholders meeting, with a view to sensitizing their supporters on the need for violence-free elections in the state.
In the mean time, the police in Rivers State say they have concluded an “operational order” to provide what they described as “water-tight security” for the elections in the state.
To realize this plan, policemen and logistics are being deployed to cover all the 4,441 polling centers in the 319 electroal wards in the state. The assistance of other security agencies for the exercise is also being secured.
Ogbaudu, the police boss, says this cooperation will ensure effective security presence in the potentially volatile state and thereby create a strong deterrence against trouble –makers during the elections.
According to him, there is also a close collaboration between the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purpose of ensuring hitch-free elections in Rviers. “In this respect, there is an on-going appraisal of the peculiarities of each polling area in the state, vis-à-vis their security needs. This is to enable the police to constantly update our security plan for the elections for optimum results,” he said.

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