The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday blamed the violence reported during last Saturday’s gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States on persons he described as fake policemen. Before the elections, Deputy Inspector General of Police AbdulMajid Ali, in charge of Kogi and Bayelsa States, had disclosed that 66,241 personnel would be deployed: 35,200 to Kogi and 31,041 to Bayelsa.
Ali added: “The police deployment shall involve the conventional police personnel who will be complemented by special units including the Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit, Counterterrorism Unit, Special Forces, Intelligence Response Unit, Special Tactical Squad, Mounted Troops and K9 Section, Airwing and the Marine detachment.”
While responding to questions from State House correspondents after he had debriefed President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Adamu said there were reports prior to the polls that politicians had sewn police and military uniforms for thugs. “During the elections, anybody you saw either in police uniform or military uniform that did not carry the tag that had been given for the election that person was not a genuine police officer or military officer or he was not on official duty. We were aware of the fact that or we were told that some politicians were going to sew police and military uniforms, so we devised some other means of identifying those who were on elections duty. We gave them tags.
“There was a police helicopter that was hovering. It was on patrol, and in the course of patrol, you will see some incidents of maybe people fighting, people trying to snatch ballot boxes. You need to intervene. In the course of intervention, of course, you can never use firearms because during elections we don’t carry firearms. So, that helicopter you saw was to patrol and scare those that would want to snatch ballot boxes. Of course, if you see a helicopter hovering over your head, if you wanted to snatch a ballot box or you had carried one, definitely you would know you are being monitored and you would stop. So, prevention was our focus.”
Adamu further dismissed allegations that the police aided in ballot snatching, saying that 11 suspects had so far been arrested in Kogi and Bayelsa for sundry offenses. But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed Adamu’s explanations as “careless and most unfortunate.” In a tweet, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “The statement credited to the IGP that ‘fake policemen’ disrupted the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa is nothing but careless and most unfortunate. To think that nearly 35 thousand policemen were deployed for the election yet they were overpowered by ‘fake policemen’ speaks volumes.”
This came as Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson rejected the results of the election in the state, saying: “What happened in Bayelsa is one of the most brazen acts of distortion and rape of our democracy. What took place was not a democratic election. It was a military coup. It was the height of conspiracy by the Federal Government and security agencies to subvert the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of foisting the APC on the people.”
He also cleared the air on perceptions that his party lost the election because he allegedly had a strained relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan. “No politician has stood by Jonathan more than me. They used Jonathan to expand the notion of disagreement and after the rigging, went to him like Pontius Pilate to wash off their hands and put it at his doorsteps, to say he sanctioned it,” he said.
Dickson also tendered an alleged video evidence on the election violence in Nembe local government area and some other parts of the state. While one of the videos captured heavy shooting in Koluama in Southern Ijaw, the other videos captured thumb-printing of ballot papers. He condemned in its entirety what he termed, the brazen connivance of security agents particularly the Nigerian Army with thugs to hijack electoral materials in most local government areas.
Dickson said that soldiers were deployed to Ogbia local government area and other parts of the state led by a lieutenant colonel to cart away electoral materials thereby undermining the process. The governor who was speaking for the first time after the conduct of the election noted with dismay the involvement of the army in the alleged killings of some members of his party, ballot snatching and hijacking of election materials and declaration of results by INEC even in the areas where election did not hold.
“As democrats, we believe in using democratic procedures in challenging what happened in Ogbia. In Ogbia, there was no collation done. In most of the areas, at the conclusion of voting, the soldiers came and rounded up everybody and forcibly took them to Ogbia town and asked all PDP leaders to leave to enable them to replace pre-written results. And so the results announced for Ogbia, like those for Southern Ijaw and Nembe were not real.
“What has happened in Bayelsa is one of the most brazen acts of distortion and rape of our democracy.
What took place was not a democratic election. It was a military coup. It was the height of conspiracy by the federal government and security agencies to subvert the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of foisting the APC on the people. It has never been like this before. In 2015, it wasn’t as bad as this. In this case, not only was the army directed to take over our place, but to collude with the APC thugs to unleash terror on our people.”
Also, the House of Representatives is planning to amend the Electoral Act, with a view to curbing violence during polls. House Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu dropped the hint yesterday while addressing journalists on the alleged rigging and violence that marred the Kogi and Bayelsa polls. According to him, a bill aimed at enforcing the use of electronic transmission of results would soon be introduced on the floor of the House for deliberation.