Election: Give Lagos special attention, Olanrewaju tasks security agencies
Following the allegation by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on Monday, that information at his disposal show that Oduduwa Nation agitators were amassing weapons and mobilising resources to disrupt the peace, security, and electoral process in the Southwest geo-political zone ahead of the general elections, prominent Yoruba groups and organisations have scoffed at the report, saying the onus is on the police boss to prove the allegation.
Some of the prominent Yoruba organisations dismissed the IGP, saying he was only trying to create unnecessary tension across the Southwest ahead of the elections.
Those who reacted include leader of Yoruba apex socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun; former lawmaker who represented Ogun Central (1999-2003), Senator Femi Okuronmmu; Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams and immediate past General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elder, Dr. Kunle Olajide.
Others were Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), Seye Oyeleye; President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu and Secretary General OPC, Bunmi Fasehun of the late Dr Fedrick Fasehun faction.
They said the police boss needs to cross-check his information and intelligence to ensure he feeds the nation with the correct situation of things, rather than making unfounded allegations.
In his reaction, Adebanjo believes there is no concrete evidence to substantiate what the IGP said.
According to him, “such allegations coming from the IGP, who is a Fulani man, lacks logic and there could be no iota of truth in it. We should ask the same police boss what he did to checkmate the excesses of armed Fulani herdsmen, who have killed and maimed innocent Nigerians under this same administration and nothing happened.”
Adebanjo added, “when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, was issuing visas to Fulani foreigners at the point of entry into Nigeria and we warned him, where was this same IGP, who is now making spurious allegations? He should come out with substantial proof.”
The ARG chairman, Wale Oshun, described the allegation as a ‘blatant lie’, which he said some cabal in government were deliberately trying to cook up to cause disruption across Yoruba land ahead of the elections.
Wondering how such allegation should even have been made at this sensitive period when there is scarcity of fuel and naira notes, Oshun said: “We have Yoruba Nation agitators, spearheaded by Ilana Omo Oodua. This group has been going about its demand peacefully and approaching the United Nations, demanding for peaceful transition to Yoruba Nation from day one, at what point did the same body start stockpiling arms to fight the country?”
Oshun also dismissed the IGP’s allegation, saying that Ilana Omo Oodua has never hauled insult at anybody, attacked any institution or had been indicted in any of its activities.
“The highest activity of the group is to stage peaceful protest, which the police always quell with brutal force. So, how come this same body suddenly started stockpiling arms. Even the leader of the group, Prof. Banji Akintoye, was initially championing restructuring before it graduated to self-determination, after the excesses of the armed herdsmen and the kids glove treatment meted out on them by security agencies. The allegation is nonsense and it should be dismissed.”
The Aare Ona Kakanfo agreed with Adebanjo, saying the IGP should cross-check his intelligence very well.
According to him, “the agitators of Yoruba Nation cannot go to such an extent of stockpiling arms and ammunition. I am not saying the IGP shouldn’t be vigilant, but he needs to feed Nigerians with the right information at this delicate time.”
Okunrounmu also dismissed the allegation as mere figment of the imagination of the police, who according to him are acting on a prepared script.
He said this kind of strategy is not new when any government has become totally unpopular and is looking for every means to discourage the electorate who are rather ready to vote them out of power.
Although efforts to reach the leader of Ilana Omo Oduduwa, Akintoye, failed, another prominent leader of the group, Prof. Wale Adeniran, refused to make comments. He said since he had recused himself from the leadership of the organisation, the appropriate person to contact is Akintoye.
Also, efforts to speak with the lawyer of Yoruba self-determination fighter, Mr Sunday Adeyemo, aka Sunday Igboho, failed.
Mr Yomi Aliyu, counsel to Igboho, didn’t pick calls made to him, but immediate past spokesman of Ilana Omo Oduduwa, Maxwell Adeleye, said the IGP was just looking for a flimsy excuse to create confusion.
According to Maxwell, “it is the character of our security agencies to make these kind of unfounded allegations of a group stockpiling arms and ammunition to disrupt elections. There is no truth in the allegation.”
On his part, the DG, DAWN Commission, Oyeleye, said the allegation was a surprise. “He who alleges must prove. The challenge is we really need to be careful not to inflame the combustible atmosphere that is in the country at the moment.
“Rather than the IGP coming out to raise such an alarm, which can only serve to fuel the crisis in the land, if he has such information, the ideal thing is for him to move in quietly to identify those he thinks are trying to cause trouble, not to throw such allegation in the air that serves no purpose,” he stated.
Also reacting, Yoruba Ronu said the allegation was vague. Malaolu said: “The allegations against Yoruba Nation proponents need to be properly explained.
“If it was true that some people are stockpiling arms to disrupt the election from holding, then how come arrests have not been made to date. The head of the police institution must have gone through many training on crime prevention and we believe that his good self should not expose him to gaps like this.
“Our forum is aware of the existence of thugs, agberos and cultists in the Southwest and Nigeria in general but the police have not done anything about them apart from puffing. The army recently carried out some mop up operation in Lagos. The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) should make its arrest and show the proof of its claims.”
MEANWHILE, former Minister of Communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd), has urged heads of the various security agencies to give Lagos State special attention, noting that the emerging mega-city has many flashpoints to warrant focused attention of the military and other security services during the forthcoming elections.
Olanrewaju, former General Officer Commanding (GOC), Third Armoured Division Nigerian Army, made the observation in reaction to the statement credited to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on the urgency and necessity of deploying defence forces against threats by renegade elements of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who have said that elections would not hold in the Southeastern part of the country.
Explaining his position on election security, he said: “Lagos being Nigeria’s most complex federating unit, should be included among other states requiring special security attention to which the armed forces, NPF, Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies should be involved.”
Olanrewaju urged the military high command and other security organisations to take particular look at major flashpoints in Lagos during elections, to ensure that no miscreants have the freedom of time to disrupt the process.
“We need this military assurance that a free, fair, and credible election will be held in Lagos State. We implore the Federal Government to deploy the military before, during and after February 25 election.
“There are many flash points in Lagos that make casting of votes very difficult because of the activities of thugs, miscreants and street urchins. They are often used to create senseless disturbances in the strongholds of opponents, rendering acceptance of results untenable.”
Politicians Frustrating Nigerians, Another Protest Worse Than Endsars Looms — Aisha Yesufu
Popular socio-political activist, Aisha Yesufu, has said corrupt politicians in Nigeria are frustrating the masses, which can lead to another nationwide protest.
Yesufu said the anger burning in the hearts of Nigerians may sponsor another protest hotter than the one experienced in 2020 tagged ‘EndSARS’.
In 2020, Nigerians staged demonstrations across the nation to call for the end of the police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, notorious for brutalising youths.
The protest, which started on Twitter (now X), resulted in mass demonstrations occurring in all major cities of the country and accompanied by violence.
It led to the death of many young Nigerians, especially after military personnel shot at peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.
Yesufu, the co-convener of the BringBackOur Girls, who was one of the activists at the centre of the protest, said Nigerians might just be caught unaware in another demonstration.
She made this known via X account, writing: “Nobody saw the #EndSARS protest coming. Nobody will see the next uprising coming.
“Sadly, it might end up being violent. There is simmering anger fuelled by the impunity and brazenness of the corrupt politicians and rulers, who have rigged their way into power. Nobody will be spared.”
Decision Day In Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi: INEC Affirms Readiness, DHQ Uncovers Plot To Cause Mayhem
• There will be injurious consequences, DHQ warns unknown gunmen
• ICPC deploys operatives to prevent vote-buying
• Police read riot act, warn perpetrators of violence, sponsors
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said there are intelligence reports of plans by desperate politicians to cause violence with hoodlums wearing military uniform.
Responding to questions from newsmen at the bi-weekly briefing in Abuja yesterday, Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, issued a stern warning to gunmen planning to disguise in military wears to cause violence during Saturday’s off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states.
He warned that there would be injurious consequences for their actions, adding that the Nigerian military will not fold its arms and watch its image dragged into the mud during Saturday’s election.
He issued the warning while briefing journalists on military operations to counter threats of terrorists, bandits/kidnappers, oil theft perpetrators and other forms of insecurity across the country.
“For the off-season elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states this weekend, here is a message for you. The military is deployed in strength for the election to create a safe environment for voters to peacefully come out and cast their votes.
“However, we are aware of plans of some people to disguise themselves in military gear to orchestrate havoc and disrupt elections in some areas. Our message to such a group is that there will be injurious consequences for such an action,” he said.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, distributed electoral materials to all 27 Local Council Areas of Imo State ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election. The distribution took place at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branch in Owerri. The electoral materials distributed were Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, ballot papers and result sheets for the polls.
Speaking to newsmen on the movement of the electoral materials, the Southeast National Commissioner, Kenneth Ukeagu, said INEC was ready for the election, adding that the election would go freely as INEC officials have been trained properly to do the needful. He also urged the electorate to come out en masse and participate in the election.
According to him, “we are ready for the election. We are distributing sensitive materials to all the LGAs in the state because elections will take place in all the LGAs in the states. We have received assurance from the security agents for providing adequate security during and after the election. On our part, we are ready and on top of our plans. The people of the state have to come out on Saturday and elect a governor of their choice.”
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday announced that it had deployed its operatives to monitor Saturday’s election in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi.
Spokesperson of the commission, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, stated that ICPC operatives had been deployed in the 56 local government areas and 649 wards in the three states to monitor and prevent vote-buying and other electoral malpractices at the various polling units during the electoral exercise.
The monitoring exercise, according to her, was a response to the invitation by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for ICPC to participate in ensuring that the electoral processes in these states are free and fair.
Ogugua charged operatives to strictly adhere to the ICPC guidelines for monitoring elections, adding that they should always act with discipline and imbibe the spirit of integrity while on the field, while adding that the operatives stay close to each other and work as a team to achieve the desired goal.
There are fears that distribution of materials by INEC, threats and counter threats by Biafra agitators may challenge tomorrow’s governorship election in Imo. Aside from fears of availability of commercial drivers to convey sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the flash spots, factions of the Biafra agitators are speaking differently about the exercise.
Already certain spots, including Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Orsu, Ihitte Uboma, Isiala Mbano, Okigwe local councils of the state have been identified as dark spots.
A faction of the agitators, led by Simeon Ekpa, asked residents to stay away from the election, while the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) urged residents to go and vote, threatening to deal with any INEC official caught conniving with politicians to rig the election.
“All those employed and drafted to various polling units to help rig this election will be doing so to their own and family risks; their families must call them to order or they all will sorely regret having participated in this election. Anyone that enthroned evil on the people deserves no mercy. IPOB eyes are at every corner in the state monitoring the activities of political jobbers and criminals”, IPOB said in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, has deployed the Deputy Inspector General (DIG), in charge of Training and Development, Frank Mba, to oversee the election with assurance of protection of lives and property.
Mba has arrived in the state. No fewer than 2,300 soldiers and other security personnel, and other para-military officials are to guard the exercise at various parts of the state.
On Thursday, the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Kanayo Uzoegbu said the command was moving 1,500 men to Imo state. He stated that the idea was to boost security and ensure free and fair exercise at the end of the day.
INEC has assured of enough ad-hoc staff to carry out election duties in the prone dark spots. The Commission has deployed nine Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), to assist the Imo REC, Prof. Sylvia Agu, in ensuring transparent elections.
Meanwhile, Head of Mission, International Organisation for Sustainable Development (IOSD), Dr. Timothy Ihemadu, told The Guardian, on Thursday, that they were concerned about heightened tension in six local government areas of the state, which are volatile.
“If citizens are not confident of their right to vote, the right to be voted for and free and fair atmosphere, in terms of security, it limits their confidence and fundamental right to vote.
“We want security deployed to protect the people and not to intimidate them. The security personnel should be professional and must understand the importance of human rights policing that seeks to protect the people first to avoid voter apathy.
“The NLC order as it concerns Imo and the blackout and air travel is anticipated to affect smooth conduct of the election as the importance of electricity to power election gadgets cannot be over emphasized, as well as arrival of critical personnel who may be challenged to arrive at their duty post”, he stated.
Amid the heightened tension created by alleged stockpiling of arms in Bayelsa and invasion of thugs from neighbouring states, the police, yesterday vowed to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of violence and their sponsors in Bayelsa.
The palpable tension, which is already causing apprehension in the state, was further heightened by the two major contenders and political stakeholders who continue to trade accusations over alleged plans to perpetrate violence.
Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting yesterday at the Police Officers Mess, Yenagoa, the DIG in charge of Saturday’s election, Sokari-Pedro, while assuring that the IGP, Egbetokun, is totally committed to the free, fair, safe and unhindered democratic atmosphere during the election, warned that no electoral offender will be spare.
He stated that though Bayelsa is a peaceful state, the three Senatorial zones are all volatile when it comes to election, while some local governments have already been identified as flashpoints.
“Officers have been directed to carry out a show of force, all the perpetrators of violence be put out of circulation and their sponsors, any civilian that is armed at any polling centre shall be arrested and failure to do that by the police, the police themselves or the sister agent who is responsible for such a lapse will be arrested.
“Any orderly or guard that escorts his principal to the polling centre shall be arrested and thereafter tried in the orderly room, in this case, if care is not taken, may lead to his dismissal.”
In Kogi, INEC reiterated that it is fully ready for the election. Speaking during a critical stakeholders’ meeting preparatory to the election, the INEC chairman, Yakubu said the commission is fully ready for the election. National Commissioner in charge Kogi, Kwara and Niger states, Prof. Sani Mohammed Adam, who spoke on behalf of the chairman, noted that sensitive and non-sensitive materials are on ground.
Given the volatile nature of election conduct in the state, the IGP, Egbetokun warned trouble makers to relocate from Kogi before Saturday. He also warned politicians and the electorate to allow security agents deployed to the state to do their jobs without being subjected to blackmail.
Already, 40,000 policemen and 3,000 men of the civil defence corps have been deployed to the state for the election, in addition to the heavy deployment of military that will complement the efforts of other security agencies.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello has urged the operatives of the Nigerian Police and other sister agencies to ensure adherence to professional conduct during the Saturday polls. He noted that his party, APC in Kogi State, holds a track record of peaceful electioneering. The governor was speaking when he received the Inspector General of Police, on Wednesday.
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) on Thursday, called on INEC to work diligently to reaffirm citizens’ confidence. IPAC also called on citizens in the three states to come out en-masse to exercise their rights to vote.
National Chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Sani, said IPAC has introduced an innovative intervention through Election Results Management System (ERMS), which was recently brought to the attention of INEC Chairman, all 19 National Chairmen and political party candidates.
Sani said: “Choosing leaders based on merit, vision, and their potential impact on the community is vital. Citizens should prioritize candidates who genuinely represent their interests and are committed to the welfare and development of their respective States. By doing so, they can ensure that their votes lead to the election of leaders, who will work towards the betterment of their lives and communities
“Citizens should be proactive in shaping the future of the nation. Grassroots involvement is fundamental to the success of any democracy. By disregarding the negative tactics of political actors and focusing on making informed choices, citizens can contribute to the establishment of a robust and accountable democratic system in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi by their conduct in the forthcoming election.
“The involvement of security agencies in the electoral process must be based on professionalism, neutrality, and a commitment to the defense of our democracy, rather than partisan interests. The citizens must feel secure in their participation in the electoral process, knowing that their safety and security are assured.”
113 Terrorists Eliminated, 300 Others Arrested In One Week – DHQ
The Defence Headquarters says the troops of the armed forces have eliminated 113 terrorists and apprehended 300 others in different operations in various theatres across the country in the last one week.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, said this while briefing journalists on the operations of the armed forces on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr Buba said the troops also apprehended 25 perpetrators of oil theft, rescued 91 kidnapped hostages and recovered 129 assorted weapons and 717 assorted ammunition within the period.
In the North East, he said the troops of Operation Hadin Kai, while conducting fighting patrols, arrested BH/ISWAP logistics suppliers in Kukawa, Damboa, Monguno and Konduga Local Government Areas of Borno.
The defence spokesman said the troops eliminated 17 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, arrested 16 and rescued six kidnapped hostages, as well as recovered different calibres of arms and ammunition during the period.
He added that the air component of Operation Hadin Kai had, on Nov. 2, engaged terrorists hibernating in the Degbewa area, where several of them were neutralised and had their logistics destroyed.
In the North Central, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Safe Haven conducted cordon and search operations in parts of Kaduna and Plateau States, killing five terrorists, arresting 14 and rescuing 15 kidnapped hostages.
He added that troops of Operation Operation Whirl Stroke conducted a raid operation at suspected criminal hideouts in parts of Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau States, neutralising two terrorists, arresting 10 and rescuing three kidnapped hostages.
In the North-West, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji neutralised 30 terrorists, arrested seven others and rescued 31 kidnapped hostages in Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara States during the period.
He said the troops also recovered 15 AK47 rifles, one RPG Tube, five RPG bombs, six hand grenades, five pairs of desert camouflages, 10 pairs of magazine purges, IED-making material, unconfirmed no of ammo and the sum of $16,200.
He added that the air component had, on Nov. 2, acquired and conducted an interdiction at a terrorist leader’s residence in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State.
According to him, the terrorist leader known as Badaru had several terrorists hibernating at the residence who were neutralised in the air strikes.
“Troops of Operation Whirl Punch conducted an offensive operation against terrorists in Birnin Gwari and Chikun Local Government Areas of Kaduna State, neutralising 23 terrorists, arresting 83 suspects and rescuing four kidnapped hostages.
“Troops recovered 12 AK47 rifles, two pistols, one unserviceable AK47 rifle, 141 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, one magazine, one motorcycle and three mobile phones,” he said.
In the Niger Delta region, Buba said the troops of Operation Delta Safe denied oil thieves an estimated sum of N571.7 million during the week.
He said the troops discovered and destroyed 76 dugout pits, 35 boats, 95 storage tanks, 10 vehicles, 129 cooking ovens, five pumping machines, 13 speedboats, six outboard engines, one vessel, three motorcycles and 49 illegal refining sites.
“Troops recovered 514,640 litres of stolen crude oil, 339,315 litres of illegally refined AGO and 775 litres of DPK,” he said.
In the South-East, Mr Buba said the troops of Operation UDO KA apprehended 10 suspected IPOB/ESN criminals and recovered one GT3 rifle, one locally fabricated pistol, two pump action guns, two dane guns, 30 live cartridges, two motorcycles and one cutlass amongst other items.
“All recovered items, arrested suspects, and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authorities for further action,” he added.