In preparations for Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, the Federal Government has ordered the closure of all land borders with effect from 12pm on Friday (today) to Sunday.
Announcing this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, said this was to restrict movements across the borders during the election.
He asked the public to take note and also directed security agencies to ensure compliance.
Meanwhile, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am to 6pm on Saturday.
He noted that the restriction would assist the security agencies in effectively policing the electoral process, “thereby preventing hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”
The force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement urged the citizens to go out en masse on election day to exercise their franchise without fear or apprehension.
He noted that the police and other security agencies had put in place adequate security measures to ensure a safe, secure and conducive environment for peaceful and credible elections.
The statement read, “In furtherance of the overall interest of public order, public well-being and safety and national security as it relates to the general elections billed to take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am to 6pm on Saturday.”
While regretting the inconveniences the restriction might cause the citizens, the IG, however, warned that the Force would deal decisively with any individuals or groups that might want to test the will of the police.
He enjoined the citizens to steer clear of vote-buying, vote-selling, hate speech, circulating fake news, snatching of ballot boxes and other acts capable of truncating the people’s will.
Adamu said the Force would not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on anyone who engaged in crime during the election period.
Violators of movement restriction order’ll be punished – Olonisakin
Also, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, has warned that anybody who violated the restriction of movement on election days will be arrested and detained, no matter how highly placed.
Olonisakin stated this at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Thursday at a press conference on the preparedness of the armed forces towards the elections, adding that security agents not on election duty should come to the polling units to vote without harassing the citizens.
He noted that President Buhari had instructed the military to ensure free, fair and credible elections, saying “all Nigerians eligible to vote should carry out their responsibility without any fear of molestation by any person or group.”
Olonisakin said, “Law enforcement agencies will remain apolitical. Besides, a Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces of Nigeria for the 2019 General Elections has been issued to the services and security personnel that will be deployed in election security duties.
“All other personnel who are not so deployed in election security duties have been directed to steer clear of the elections apart from exercising their rights to vote for candidates of their choice.
“I appeal to all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the restrictions on movement during the period of the elections. Violators of the restriction on movement, no matter how highly placed, will be arrested and detained.
“However, this restriction does not apply to those on election security duties, local and international observers and emergency and security services personnel on authorised duties only.”
Military will deal with fake soldiers – Defence chief
The defence chief noted that the military was aware of groups planning to impersonate soldiers and use the army uniform to create chaos, warning that the armed forces would go after such groups.
He added, “We are not unaware of plans to illegally use uniforms of military and paramilitary agencies to impersonate security and law enforcement agencies; illegal possession and use of firearms to intimidate and harass members of the public; and other acts likely to cause security breaches.
“Let me warn that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies will not tolerate any act that is likely to cause security breaches before, during and after the elections, and we will deal decisively with these acts irrespective of those involved.
“Members of the public are also advised to disregard the call to stay at home on the day of the election being circulated in some parts of the country. The stay-at-home leaflets being circulated and similar on-line messages are part of the handiwork of mischief-makers who are bent on scuttling the process and should be ignored.”
Vote, protect your votes, Sultan tells Nigerians
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on Thursday called on Nigerians to protect their votes in the elections scheduled for Saturday.
He gave the charge in Abuja during the 2019 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture, organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, with the theme, “Towards credible, peaceful and participatory election – Moving Nigeria’s democracy forward.”
Abubakar said, “Why so much concern about the presidential election in Nigeria especially by foreign partners? We need to ask ourselves. But the simple issue is that Nigeria’s 200 million population is such a big concern to everybody.
“The reason is that the survival of Nigeria is so important to the world that everybody must come together to see credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria where whoever emerges will be accepted by all and must be accepted by all.”
The Sultan said that those at the top felt they were at the top and so controlled everything, stressing that it should be the people who should be in control of everything.
The monarch said, “That is why I want to call on Nigerians go out exercise your rights, vote for the candidate you feel is best for you and ensure you protect your vote.”
Airports ready to move materials for elections – FAAN
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has said it is committed to ensuring smooth movements of people and election materials for Saturday’s elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the Managing Director, FAAN, Mr Saleh Dunoma, as saying this in an interview in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that the transport of election materials for the Presidential and National Assembly polls had commenced and would be successfully completed before the elections.
He said FAAN had put adequate measures in place in terms of facilitation and security to ensure hitch-free operations because of the importance of the exercise to the nation.
He said, “We are very much ready, materials have been handled substantially, we are still moving them and we will ensure that all the materials are transported safely.
“A lot of people are also moving because they are travelling to where they have registered to go and vote. We are working with all the relevant agencies to ensure that everything is done properly.”
NAN reported that the Abuja airport witnessed an appreciable increase in traffic at the domestic wing on Thursday as many people had started travelling to different locations for the elections.
Massive security agents deployment in Kaduna, Akwa Ibom
Ahead of the election, heavily armed military personnel have been deployed to all parts of Kaduna State, while over 9,000 police operatives are to participate in the polls in Akwa Ibom State.
At the INEC headquarters along Kinshasha Road, Ungwan-Rimi in Kaduna Local Government Area of the state, stern-looking military and other security agents, manned the gates and the surroundings.
There was also a show of force by the military that patrol the major streets of the metropolis.
This was just as the state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps asked its officers and men to demonstrate professionalism before, during and after the elections.
The NSDC’s state Commandant, Alhaji Modu Bunu, who stated this, warned the officers and men that dire consequences awaited any personnel who engaged in unwholesome practices during the polls.
The Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon, in a statement said the command had put in place adequate security measures to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections.
Osun, Anambra declare today work-free for elections
Meanwhile, the governments of Osun and Anambra states have declared Friday work-free to enable public and civil servants to participate in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
While the Anambra State Head of Service, Mr. Harry Udu, made the announcement on Thursday in Awka; the Supervisory Director of Osun Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, made this known in Osogbo on Thursday.
Udu urged workers in Anambra State to show patriotism to government by ensuring they exercise their franchise peacefully.
He explained that the work-free day would enable those travelling to their respective communities to do so on time.
Baderinwa said in a statement that the holiday was to allow eligible voters to prepare for and participate in the elections.
He said government was aware that some of the voters in the civil service would need to travel to their various localities to vote.
Hoodlums in military uniforms attack INEC vehicle –Benue REC
The INEC office in Benue State has said some hoodlums in military uniforms attacked one of the commission’s vehicles.
The Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, disclosed this when addressing journalists on the preparation for the Saturday elections on Wednesday night.
He said the vehicle carrying non-sensitive materials to Logo was attacked.
Yilwatda said, “Recently, our vehicle which was conveying non-sensitive materials was attacked along Logo area by people in military uniforms.”
The REC said efforts were on to stop the attacks, noting that the commission had taken steps to ensure that security men participating in the elections were accredited.
He added, “We have also put up measures to ensure that voting commence concurrently in all the 5,102 polling units across the 23 local governments of the state, while results of the polls will be transmitted electronically and in written forms.
“l want to caution everyone against vote-buying or selling, rigging or any action that can contravene the electoral laws and any sign of malpractices would be reported accordingly.
“I’m happy to inform you that about 22,000 ad hoc staff including people living with disabilities will be deployed across the 5,102 polling units for the smooth conduct of the elections.”
He said no food vendor would be allowed close to the polling units just as he disclosed that all polling units located close to pubs restaurants and those in residential houses would be relocated to more neutral grounds to discourage intimidation of voters.
The INEC commissioner also allayed the fear of some politicians that the IDPs would be used to rig elections in the state, saying ECOWAS, European Union, among others, had taken so much interest in the IDPs voting in Benue and had all arrived to keep watch over voting.
Two arrested with 14 bags of ballot papers in Kano
Meanwhile, the Kano State Police Command says it has arrested two suspects in possession of 14 bags of ballot papers in Kano metropolis.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, who confirmed this to newsmen in Kano on Thursday, said the suspects were apprehended around Metro Police Area Command.
He said that the suspects were arrested on Wednesday evening by some police operatives attached to Metro Area Command in the metropolis.
Haruna said during interrogation, the suspects said they came from Jigawa State, and that the materials were fake specimen of ballot papers meant for sensitisation and orientation purposes.
“The ballot papers are specimens; so, they are not genuine ballot papers,” Haruna explained.
He said investigation was still ongoing, as the case had been transferred to the state Criminal Investigation Development.