Off-season gov polls: IG undercover squads comb Imo, Kogi, Bayelsa flashpoints, criminal hideouts - LagosTrend

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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Off-season gov polls: IG undercover squads comb Imo, Kogi, Bayelsa flashpoints, criminal hideouts

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, has deployed undercover agents, who are currently carrying out covert operations to identify criminals’ hideouts and clamp down on them in the three states and neighbouring states. Sunday LAGOSTREND als o gathered that President Bola Tinubu had approved the allowances for police officers deployed for the off-season elections in the three states, as well as other officers on special duties. Governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa have in recent years been marred by several unsettling events, which led to avoidable loss of lives and property. For example, during the last governorship election in the state held in 2019, the then governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, said 22 persons were killed. He said 10 out of them were members of the Peoples Democratic Party, while the 12 other residents were “beheaded, mutilated and actually butchered” before they were thrown into the sea. Also, in Kogi State, no fewer than four persons were reported killed during the 2019 election. Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and his counterpart in Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, are seeking re-election, 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 ticket. Six days to the elections, it was learnt that the police commands in the three states had also finalised plans to deploy anti-riot equipment such as teargas canisters, water cannon, Armoured Personnel Carriers and drones to ensure adequate security before, during and after the polls. The Force Headquarters also disclosed that the police were prepared for the elections, and that adequate deployment had been done in all areas. The Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, added, “We are ready and have prepared well for the elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states. Adequate deployments have been done to all areas, including the protection of Independent National Electoral Commission officials, accredited observers, media, materials and facilities. We have made arrangements for necessary escorts during the elections. “The IG has ordered additional allocation of logistics, equipment and personnel to the states and other states that will support the concerned states. The IG was in Imo to address stakeholders on Thursday. We are good to go. “Also, the allowances of our personnel for the election duty have been approved for payment. We are engaging all the stakeholders to maintain peace and be law-abiding before, during and after the elections.” Adejobi told our correspondent in September that being off-season elections, the police would “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 will also be on the field to gather intelligence for us.” Confirming the police readiness to Sunday PUNCH on Friday, the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, Henry Okoye, said there was enough security on ground, adding that the state command had deployed undercover agents, officers in uniform and adequate equipment to enable the electorate to cast their votes under a secured atmosphere. He stated, “We are prepared. Note that the election comes in different phases – the pre-election phase, the election phase and the post-election phase. For the pre-election phase, we have deployed operatives of the State Intelligence Bureau to embark on undercover operations. We deployed them across the 27 LGs, and they are assisting us in intelligence-led raid of criminal hideouts. The command is prepared to provide a conducive atmosphere that will guarantee the conduct of a credible and acceptable election. We have made both covert and overt deployments; hence Imolites should come out and cast their votes without fear.” Parties oppose rigging In Imo State, the two major opposition parties in the state, Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party, have expressed optimism that they will defeat the governor, the incumbent governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress. In separate interviews with one of our correspondents in Owerri on Friday, they said the governor would lose the election, based on his performance in the last four years. The LP Legal Adviser in the state, Emeka Ihejirike, said the APC administration brought nothing but hardship to the people, noting that the party’s candidate, Athan Achonu, was prepared to lead the state to the path of economic stability, security and infrastructural development. Ihejirike said though his party had received intelligence that the APC administration was planning to use thugs to rig the election, the LP and the people of the state were prepared to resist the plot. He stated, “The chances of the Labour Party in the forthcoming governorship election in Imo State are very bright, having taken its message across the 27 LGs, 305 wards and 4,720 polling units in the state.

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