The security advice issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force concerning the conduct of Edo governorship poll on Saturday, September 19, 2016 has elicited divergent reactions from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The two security agencies had called for postponement of the election based on intelligence reports that extremist elements had earmarked Edo State amongst the states to be attacked between September 12 and 13.
Reacting differently to the security report, the state governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole welcomed with reservations and called on INEC not to postpone the election for too long to enable the quick burial of the PDP.
“The APC is ready for the election this Saturday, and that was why we held our mega rally on Tuesday and after that rally, our people across the state became more committed, more dogged and ready for the Saturday election.
“I am already preparing to go to my village to also mobilize my people as other party leaders are doing; that is to let you know that we are not relaxing despite the fact that we know the PDP is already dead, and our people are just getting ready for the burial.
“However, security issues are security issues and as regards elections, they are very critical. If on their own they are calling on INEC for postponement, I am sure they must have their reasons because they are experts in it.”
PDP, on the other hand alleged that the postponement was mooted so as to give its opponent additional time to perfect its poll manipulation strategy.
PDP’s publicity secretary in Edo State, Mr. Chris Nehikhare described the security alert as “APC’s despicable connivance with the security agencies.”
He said APC was only postponing its doomsday stressing that the party was afraid of imminent defeat at the poll.
PDP’s National Caretaker Committee described the call as shocking, given the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari in Benin earlier.
The party’s spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said in a state issued in Abuja that the party was taken aback by the advice as saying it came a day after President Muhammadu Buhari was present at the Mega Rally of his party, the APC in Benin City, which was concluded without any hitch.
“It is on record that INEC recently conducted a ‘hitch-free’ senatorial by-election in Borno State, which is a high-point of insurgency in the country, but the security agencies saw no reason to call-off the election. It is, therefore, lamentable to hear from these same security agencies that the election cannot be held in a state where in less than 24 hours, the President and all the APC leaders and members had an uninterrupted rally.
“We are calling on the President to caution the security agencies and direct them to provide full security, and also to desist doing anything that will jeopardize this forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State. We are equally counting on INEC not to succumb to this false alarm by acting independently and holding election as scheduled,” he said.
Below is the statement jointly issued earlier by the DSS and NPF. It was jointly signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Donald Awunah and Garba Abdullahi for the DSS.
“The Nigeria Police and Department of State Services, wish to inform the general public that credible intelligence availed the agencies indicate plans by insurgent/extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between 12th and 13th September, 2016.
“Edo State is amongst the States being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements.
“The public would recall that similar threats were issued during the May Labour Day and Democracy Day celebrations as well as the Ed-el-fitr holidays in July, 2016. However, the security agencies were able to decisively disrupt and thwart the insurgents’ plan.
“In the same vein, while election is important, the security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted, and we will continue to remain vigilant and ensure consolidation of the successes gained in the current counter-insurgency fight.
“It is in regard of these that we are appealing to INEC which has the legal duty to regulate elections in the country to consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo State in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorist threats.
“While the Police/DSS remain mindful of the inconveniences this request may cause the various political stakeholders, it is our strong resolve that security agencies need not be distracted from ensuring a peaceful and secured Nigeria now and always.
“Members of the public are hereby assured that the security agencies will continue to remain focused and committed and are being enjoined to remain vigilant.
“The attention of the security agencies should be drawn to any observed unusual movements or actions by groups or individuals in their neighborhoods.”