A minimum of three helicopters,dozens of sniffer dogs , anti-bomb experts and thousands of armed policemen are being deployed around Lagos State today as residents go to the polls to elect chairmen and councilors for the 20 local government area and 37 Local Council Development Areas.
Complementing the police to keep trouble makers in check are soldiers drawn from the army,navy and the air force.
The navy and marine police will be keeping an eye on the waterways and coastal areas while army and police personnel will patrol the highways and other strategic areas.
The Commanding Officer of the 9th Brigade -Gen. Adiku Attu and his NNS BEECROFT counterpart , Commodore Maurice Eno, said yesterday ahead of the election that every necessary arrangement had been made to ensure maximum security all through the election period.
Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni help a separate security meeting with heads of other agencies including the military, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), urging them to perfect all security arrangements.
He warned against the use of firearms near polling units by stakeholders, likening such action to a suicide mission. Owoseni gave the warning while candidates and party leaders signed an undertaking towards a violence-free exercise.
He said: “If you want to commit suicide, come out with your firearms. We have profiled you and have taken your biometrics. We have also interfaced with you personally and we will tell you what to expect from us.
“During this election, we don’t want political thuggery like we have witnessed in certain elections from different camps.”
He said some people have already been arrested by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Yaba.
He warned politicians against sponsoring thugs,saying “If any of the hoodlums are traced back to you, it will jeopardise your chances. Talk to your supporters not to be overzealous because we will not hesitate to write an intelligence report to your party and the government.”
Chairman of the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Justice Ayotunde Phillips pledged a level playing ground for all the parties,and asked them not to cast aspersion on the integrity of the commission.
“The Commission shall remain committed to its responsibilities of conducting free, fair and credible elections into the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas,” she told reporters at the Sabo,Yaba, headquarters of LASIEC yesterday.
She added: “Nobody, therefore, has any cause to entertain any fear or doubt on the neutrality of the Commission as an electoral umpire at the Local Government level of Lagos State. We are very much aware of our responsibilities as provided for in the relevant enabling laws.”
She said the Commission had,by yesterday, deployed non-sensitive materials to the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas of the State so that “Electoral Officers have adequate time to distribute the materials to locations where they would be used for tomorrow’s (today’s) elections.
“Deployment of sensitive materials to the various Local Government and Local Council Development Areas of the State has also commenced this morning (yesterday) and will be completed in due course. With the early deployment of the materials, I am confident that the elections would be conducted without any hitch whatsoever.
“Accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously between 8.00 and 3.00pm. I want to reiterate that the results of the Chairmanship elections will be declared at the collation centre in each of the Local Governments or Local Council Development Areas while the results for Councillorship elections will be declared at each of the Ward collation centres.
“The only condition that may warrant the declaration of the results outside the collation centres is if it is discovered that the environment is not safe and conducive.”
She appealed to the media to be fair, objective and patriotic in their reportage of the elections.
“As patriotic citizens you owe the nation and the Lagos State the duty of performing your reportorial duties in a most responsible and patriotic manner, devoid of narrow self-centredness that could cast doubt on the electoral process and plunge the state into crises. I need not remind you that pen is mightier than the sword. As holders of the pen, you must be circumspect in the way you use it so that the remaining part of the electoral process can be peaceful and hitch-free,” she said.
Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni, who was also at the briefing, media are the most important unit that would determine the success of the poll.
He appealed to journalists to verify issue before sharing it on social media. This, he said, will go a long way to mitigate the effects of misinformation.
According to him, the police have opened an Investigative Desk to handle cases of crisis during the elections, urging people to call 08063299264 or 08033040870 to report such.
Owoseni warned those who have stockpile ammunitions to surrender them before midnight as police will deal decisively with anyone found with ammunition.
He enjoined the politicians not to sponsor hooligans during the poll, vowing to prosecute them and the hoodlums if caught.