The Nigerian Police Force has announced robust security measures, including the deployment of drones, in anticipation of the forthcoming governorship elections scheduled for November 11 in the states of Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa.
These measures come amid rising political tensions and a history of electoral unrest.
According to the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who spoke to PUNCH in an interview, law enforcement authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a secure and peaceful electoral process. Adejobi outlined a comprehensive strategy that includes the mobilization of personnel, both uniformed and plainclothes officers, along with an array of anti-riot equipment.
Among the notable equipment to be deployed are teargas canisters, water cannons, and Armoured Personnel Carriers. However, introducing drones into the security apparatus marks a significant technological advancement in the effort to monitor and safeguard these crucial elections.
Adejobi stressed that the police have engaged in several meetings with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a committee level, co-chaired by Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun and INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu. These discussions aim to coordinate efforts to ensure a smooth and violence-free election process.
The decision to employ drones is a response to concerns about political thuggery and violence in the run-up to the elections. Recent years have witnessed unsettling events during governorship elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa, resulting in loss of lives and property.
In this political climate, incumbent Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State are both seeking re-election, while Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is supporting the All Progressives Congress candidate, Usman Ododo.
Adejobi affirmed the police force’s commitment to ensuring the success of the elections, stating, “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 will have adequate personnel deployed.”
He further explained, “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 will also deploy our equipment to ensure 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.”