Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said the stage is set for eligible voters to choose the next governor of Ondo state from among the 28 candidates participating in the election.
This came amid threats from security forces.
While the police and INEC warned troublemakers to stay clear of today’s election, the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko at a press conference talked tough, claiming that the system had been rigged against his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Segun Agbaje, said all sensitive materials had been dispatched to all the 18 local government areas of the state while the officials and ad hoc staff of the Commission would move to their various local governments and units.
He said that every eligible voter shall be accredited and immediately receive the ballot paper and proceed to vote without a break while he maintained that the means of accreditation remained through the use of Smart Card Reader ( SCR).
He said “ we have been assured of adequate security by the Nigerian Police as the lead agency in election security. We had a meeting of the inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security where elaborate deployment and operational plan was agreed upon.
“This involves early and adequate deployment for general security as well as specific deployment for the protection of staff and material from our state Headquarters to the 18 local governments.
“We have been assured by the security agencies that any act contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act will be promptly dealt with. This is without prejudice to the right of citizens who may wish to stay some distance away from the polling units after voting to witness the counting of ballots,” he said.
According to a record made available by the electoral commission, about 1.2m voters will participate in today’s voting exercise across the 18 local government areas in the state, saying over 55 percent of the voters are youths between the age of 18 and 50.
In terms of security, the state Police Commissioner, Hilda Harrison said that robust and elaborate security arrangement was being implemented to ensure the peaceful conduct of the election.
Harrison said the Inspector General of Police had approved the deployment of additional 26,000 conventional policemen to the state,with 2,000 Mobile Policemen, 10 cells of counter terrorism unit, Marine police and sniffer dogs and horses as part of efforts to ensure that the election is free of crimes and other criminal activities.
The police boss also said that three helicopters, (one for each senatorial district) would be used for surveillance during the election while about 20 police gunboats, 12 additional Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and 300 patrol vehicles would be used for the election. He added that the police will be working in collaboration with other sister security agencies in the state.
Also speaking, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRo) Femi Joseph, said the Inspector General of Police has provided everything required to ensure the success and peaceful conduct of this election.
He said anything that had to do with security measures has been put in place, disclosing that the DIG Operations, Josak Abila had been drafted to the state for the special assignment and would be assisted by two AIGs and three Commissioners of Police, one for each senatorial district.
Joseph said the borders of the state would be closed by 8pm while men of the command would be stationed around the state to conduct stop and search to ensure that nobody entered the state with any incriminating item.
He said “ I want to warn the people, most especially those who have negative intents that we are out for them and we will not hesitate to deal with anyone trying to truncate the process of this election.
“By 12am Saturday (today), there will be total shut down of the boundary, movement of vehicles will be restricted during the election too, from 6am to 8pm, because we realised that election at times usually drags into the night.”